Bartter syndromePotassium wasting; Salt-wasting nephropathy
Bartter syndrome is a group of rare conditions that affect the kidneys.
There are 5 gene defects known to be associated with Bartter syndrome. The condition is present at birth (congenital).
The condition is caused by a defect in the kidneys' ability to reabsorb sodium. People affected by Bartter syndrome lose too much sodium through the urine. This causes a rise in the level of the hormone aldosterone, and makes the kidneys remove too much potassium from the body. This is known as potassium wasting.
The condition also results in an abnormal acid balance in the blood called hypokalemic alkalosis, which causes too much calcium in the urine.
This disease usually occurs in childhood. Symptoms include:
- Rate of weight gain is much lower than that of other children of similar age and gender (growth failure)
- Needing to urinate more often than usual (urinary frequency)
- Low blood pressure
- Kidney stones
- Muscle cramping and weakness
Exams and Tests
Bartter syndrome is usually suspected when a blood test finds a low level of potassium in the blood. Unlike other forms of kidney disease, this condition does not cause high blood pressure. There is a tendency toward low blood pressure. Laboratory tests may show:
Low level of potassium in the blood
Low potassium level is a condition in which the amount of potassium in the blood is lower than normal. The medical name of this condition is hypokal...
- High levels of potassium, calcium, and chloride in the urine
The potassium urine test measures the amount of potassium in a certain amount of urine.
- High levels of the hormones renin and aldosterone in the blood
- Low blood chloride
- Metabolic alkalosis
These same signs and symptoms can also occur in people who take too many diuretics (water pills) or laxatives. Urine tests can be done to rule out other causes.
An ultrasound of the kidneys may be done.
Bartter syndrome is treated by eating foods rich in potassium or taking potassium supplements.
Many people also need salt and magnesium supplements. Medicine may be needed that blocks the kidney's ability to get rid of potassium. High doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be used.
Infants who have severe growth failure may grow normally with treatment. Over time, some people with the condition will develop kidney failure.
Chronic kidney disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time. The main job of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body...
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if your child is:
- Having muscle cramps
- Not growing well
- Urinating frequently
Bakkaloglu SA, Schaefer F. Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract in children. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 74.
Guay-Woodford LM. Hereditary nephropathies and developmental abnormalities of the urinary tract. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 128.
Aldosterone level test - illustration
Aldosterone is a hormone released by the adrenal glands. It is part of the complex mechanism used by the body to regulate blood pressure by reabsorbing water in the kidneys.
Aldosterone level test
Review Date: 10/13/2015
Reviewed By: Walead Latif DO, nephrologist, Medical Director of Fresenius Vascular Care, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.