Intracellular potassium measurement is used to estimate the actual levels of the chemical element within the cells and is performed by measuring the concentration of potassium in the red blood cells (RBC).
Potassium (K) is the major intracellular cation and is found only in small amounts in the extracellular fluid. There is an inverse relationship between potassium and sodium. Potassium is responsible for maintaining acid-base balance, regulating the cellular osmotic pressure, and electrical conductivity in muscle cells, especially heart muscle and skeletal muscles. Serum potassium levels are often used to evaluate patients with cardiac arrhythmias, renal impairment, mental confusion, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Patients with elevated serum potassium levels (hyperkalemia) have weakness, malaise, nausea, diarrhea, muscle irritability, oliguria, and bradycardia. Patients with hypokalemia, i.e., below-normal blood potassium levels, show mental confusion, anorexia, muscle weakness, hallucinations, hypotension, rapid and weak pulse, and decreased reflexes.
Intracellular potassium measurement can detect cell deficiency earlier and more accurately than standard serum potassium testing. Intracellular potassium measurement is particularly enlightening in patients who show symptoms of potassium deficiency but have normal serum potassium levels. Intracellular potassium measurement can also be used to fully analyze potassium levels in the body.
Measurement of Intracellular Trace Elements
Measuring intracellular metals and trace elements by measuring them within red blood cells (RBCs) is an excellent method for assessing the deficiency or excess of elements with important functions within cells or within cell membranes. The measurement of intracellular metals and trace elements is used to assess the status of key elements with important intracellular functions such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium, and zinc.