Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-2014


Rapid correction of severe hyponatremia carries the risk of osmotic demyelination. Two recently introduced methods of correction of hyponatremia have diametrically opposite effects on aquaresis. Inhibitors of vasopressin V2 receptor (vaptans) lead to the production of dilute urine, whereas infusion of desmopressin causes urinary concentration. Identification of the category of hyponatremia that will benefit from one or the other treatment is critical. In general, vaptans are effective in hyponatremias presenting with concentrated urine and, with the exception of hypovolemic hyponatremia, can be used as their primary treatment. Desmopressin is effective in hyponatremias presenting with dilute urine or developing urinary dilution after saline infusion. In this setting, desmopressin infusion helps prevent overcorrection of the hyponatremia. Monitoring of the changes in serum sodium concentration as a guide to treatment changes is imperative regardless of the initial treatment of severe hyponatremia.


The version of record is available from the American Journal of the Medical Sciences at This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0000000000000331