THE PRIMARY purpose of this paper is to call attention to an unusual postoperative complication of subtotal gastric resection, namely, the development of a potassium deficiency state associated with hypochloremia and alkalosis of a severe degree. The etiology, symptomatology and therapy of this clinical syndrome are discussed, and a case is reported of an apparently moribund patient who recovered after recognition and adequate therapy of the deficiency state. Dr. Conley H. Sanford and Dr. Charles J. Deere, internists, referred this patient for surgical treatment and cooperated throughout the laboratory studies and the medical treatment.
The surgical literature contains relatively few articles regarding potassium deficiency, and references to potassium depletion and alkalosis as specific complications of gastric resection are limited. Recent presentations by Marks,1 Kennedy and his associates,2 Randall and his co-workers,3 and Sedgwick4 discuss the problems of potassium deficiency and the so-called hypochloremic alkalosis in the