Relationship between serum total magnesium and serum potassium in emergency surgical patients in a tertiary hospital in Ghana

  • Robert Djagbletey
  • Brenda Phillips
  • Frank Boni
  • Christian Owoo
  • Ebenezer Owusu-Darkwa
  • Papa Kobina Gyakye deGraft-Johnson
  • Alfred E. Yawson
Keywords: Potassium, magnesium, electrolyte, preoperative period


Introduction: Potassium and magnesium are the two most abundant intra cellular cations. They play pivotal roles in many essential biological processes. Deficiencies of these electrolytes are of clinical importance in hospitalised patients.

Aim: To determine the relationship between serum total magnesium and potassium levels in adult patients requiring an emergency intra-abdominal surgery and the clinical utility of this relationship in the care of patients.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted over a five month period at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. All 101 adult patients admitted for emergency intra abdominal surgery, who met the inclusion criteria and gave informed consent, were consecutively recruited and enrolled into the study. Patients’ characteristics preoperative total serum magnesium, serum potassium and albumin levels were determined. Regression analysis and correlation coefficients were used to determine the relation between serum magnesium and potassium. Analysis was done using SPSS version 20.

Results: Mean serum total magnesium and serum potassium were 0.66±0.20mmol/L and 3.79±0.65mmol/L respectively. There was a significant but weak positive correlation between serum hypokalaemia and serum magnesium levels. Pearson’s correlation coefficient (2 tailed) was 0.21, R2= 0.04, p = value 0.038. Analysis generated a regression model: [Mg] = 0.06[K] + 0.42mmol/L, with a p-value = 0.038.

Conclusion: A mathematical relationship was found between serum total magnesium and serum potassium among adult patients who require emergency intra-abdominal surgery. However, it had limited clinical utility.

Funding: None declared

Keywords: Potassium, magnesium, electrolyte, preoperative period


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560