This test is used to measure serum levels of phosphates, the primary anion in intracellular fluid. About 85% of the body's phosphates are found in bone. The intestines absorb most phosphates from dietary sources; the kidneys excrete phosphates and serve as a regulatory mechanism. Abnormal concentrations of serum phosphates usually result from improper excretion rather than faulty ingestion or absorption from dietary sources.
Normally, calcium and phosphates have an inverse relationship; if one is increased, the other is decreased.
Procedure and posttest care
Because serum phosphate values alone are of limited diagnostic use (only a few rare conditions directly affect phosphate metabolism), they should be interpreted in light of serum calcium results.
Decreased phosphate levels (hypophosphatemia) may result from malnutrition, malabsorption syndromes, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, and treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. In children, hypophosphatemia can suppress normal growth.
Increased levels (hyperphosphatemia) may result from skeletal disease, healing fractures, hypoparathyroidism, acromegaly, diabetic ketoacidosis, high intestinal obstruction, and renal failure. Hyperphosphatemia is seldom clinically significant, but it can alter bone metabolism in prolonged cases.
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