Phosphate in Critical Care Introduction




Phosphate is often the forgotten electrolyte. Many intensivists brush off low serum phosphates as unimportant, usually due to a lack of coherent understanding of the importance of this blood test. Phosphate is a predominantly intracellular anion, and at this level it is involved in virtually every cellular reaction. In the serum it’s role is limited. Does a low serum phosphate mean a low intracellular level? This is hard to say, however we meticulously treat low serum potassium, and this is predominantly an intracellular cation. The objective of this tutorial is to discuss what is known of phosphate in physiology, and to discuss pathological levels of this agent in the blood.

Learning Objectives

  • To determine the physiological importance of phosphate.

  • To discuss the causes and complications of a low serum phosphate.

  • To discuss the causes and complications of a high serum phosphate.

  • To explore the “refeeding syndrome”.

  • To determine strategies for phosphate repletion and removal in intensive care.




Please note: these tutorials are for personal study purposes only.  They are not currently peer reviewed, and no responsibility will be taken for mistakes or inaccuracies. Reproduction of information is forbidden. All material is copyrighted by the GasWorks Group.