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The use of calcium chloride in the treatment of hyperkalaemia.

Three Part Question

In [adults (>16 years) presenting to the emergency department with hyperkalaemia] is
[intravenous calcium chloride] effective at [lowering serum K+ levels]?

Clinical Scenario

A 65 year-old man is referred to the ED by his GP with a serum potassium concentration of 6.5mmol/L. Repeat tests confirm hyperkalaemia. You order an ECG which shows characteristic hyperkalaemic changes.

Search Strategy

Cochrane Library for Systematic Reviews: May 2011
MEDLINE using OVID interface: 1948 to June week 2
EMBASE: 1980 to 2011 week 24
Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Plus: 1947 to June 25th 2011
COCHRANE: hyperkalaemia, hyperkalemia, hyperkal*, hyperpotass*, potassium and hyperpotassaemia

MEDLINE and EMBASE: [exp Potassium/ OR exp Hyperkalemia/ OR OR high OR hyperkal$.mp/ OR hyperpotass$.mp] AND [calcium OR exp Calcium Chloride/ OR] Limit to (english language and humans yr="2003 -Current")

CINAHL: (Hyperkalaemia/ OR Hyperkalemia/ OR Hyperkal*/ OR High potassium/ OR Potassium/ OR Hyperpotass*) AND (Calcium chloride/ OR CaCl2) Limit to (english language and humans)

Search Outcome

COCHRANE: 51 papers, one of which was relevant (search strategy dated to 2003)
MEDLINE: 17 papers found, none of which were relevant.
EMBASE: 132 papers found, none of which were relevant.
CINAHL:30 papers found, none of which were relevant.

Relevant Paper(s)

Author, date and country Patient group Study type (level of evidence) Outcomes Key results Study Weaknesses
Mahoney BA, Smith WA, Lo D, Tsoi K, Tonelli M, Clase C
RCTs, quasi- RCTS and randomised cross-over studies. Systematic review. 1aSerum potassium, ECG changes, arrhythmia, adverse effects of therapy and death.No relevant studies identified.


There is no clinical evidence for or against the use of calcium chloride in the emergency management of hyperkalaemia.

Clinical Bottom Line

As there is no clinical evidence available, local guidelines and advice should be followed.


  1. Mahoney BA, Smith WA, Lo D, Tsoi K, Tonelli M, Clase C Emergency interventions for hyperkalaemia Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2