J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 41:713-718 doi:10.1136/jnnp.41.8.713
  • Research Article

Water intoxication in epileptic patients receiving carbamazepine.


Plasma sodium and osmolality were determined in 80 adult epileptic patients receiving chronic treatment with carbamazepine and in 50 control patients treated with other anticonvulsant drugs. Mean plasma osmolality was significantly lower in the carbamazepine-treated patients but mean plasma sodium did not differ in the two groups. Hyponatraemia was found in five of the carbamazine-treated patients and hypo-osmolality in six. None of the control patients had hyponatraemia and only one had a borderline low osmolality. Three of the 13 patients receiving carbamazepine alone were hyponatraemic. Plasma sodium concentration correlated negatively with both daily carbamazepine dose and serum carbamazepine level. Free water clearance after an oral water load was determined in six patients on carbamazepine alone and in six normal subjects not receiving drug therapy. The capacity of some of the patients to excrete the water load was found to be grossly impaired.