Background We aimed to determine whether a greater degree of contralateral suppression of aldosterone secretion at adrenal venous sampling predicted the development of postoperative hyperkalemia after unilateral adrenalectomy for primary aldosteronism. Methods A retrospective analysis of patients undergoing unilateral adrenalectomy for primary aldosteronism between 2004-2015 was performed. Clinical and biochemical parameters of patients who developed hyperkalemia (≥5.2 mmol/L) after unilateral adreanlectomy were compared with those who remained normokalemic. The contralateral suppression index was defined as the aldosterone-to-cortisol ratio from the nondominant adrenal vein divided by the aldosterone-to-cortisol ratio from the external iliac vein. Results Of 192 patients who met criteria for inclusion, 12 (6.3%) developed hyperkalemia (median serum potassium 5.5 mmol/L, range 5.2-6.2 mmol/L), with a median time to onset of 13.5 days (range 7-55 days). Five patients had transiently increased serum potassium concentrations that normalized spontaneously. Four patients received mineralocorticoid replacement therapy with fludrocortisone. On univariate analysis, hyperkalemic patients had slightly greater preoperative serum creatinine levels (1.2 vs 1.0 mg/dL, P =.01), higher postoperative creatinine (1.3 vs 1.0 mg/dL, P =.02), lesser median contralateral suppression index (0.14 vs 0.27, P =.03), and larger adenomas (1.9 vs 1.4 cm, P =.02). On multivariable logistic regression, the contralateral suppression index remained the only significant predictor of postoperative hyperkalemia (P =.04) with an optimal cut-off of <0.47. Conclusion Hyperkalemia after unilateral adrenalectomy for primary aldosteronism is uncommon and usually transient, but may require mineralocorticoid supplementation. Patients with a contralateral suppression index of <0.47 require meticulous follow-up and monitoring of serum potassium concentrations after unilateral adrenalectomy.
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