What's the Treatment of Hyperammonemia?

Treatment centers on limiting intake of ammonia and increasing its excretion.

Dietary protein, a metabolic source of ammonium, is restricted and caloric intake is provided by glucose and fat. Intravenous arginine (argininosuccinase deficiency) sodium phenylbutyrate and sodium benzoate (ornithine transcarbamoylase deficiency) are pharmacologic agents commonly used as adjunctive therapy to treat hyperammonemia in patients with urea cycle enzyme deficiencies.

Sodium phenylbutyrate and sodium benzoate can serve as alternatives to urea for the excretion of waste nitrogen. Phenylbutyrate, which is the product of phenylacetate, conjugates with glutamine to form phenylacetylglutamine, which is excreted by the kidneys. Similarly, sodium benzoate reduces ammonia content in the blood by conjugating with glycine to form hippuric acid, which is rapidly excreted by the kidneys.

A preparation containing sodium phenylacetate and sodium benzoate is available under the trade name Ammonul. Acidification of the intestinal lumen using lactulose can decrease ammonia levels by protonating ammonia and trapping it in the stool. This is a treatment for hepatic encephalopathy.

Treatment of severe hyperammonemia (serum ammonia levels greater than 1000 μmol/L) should begin with hemodialysis if it is otherwise medically appropriate and tolerated.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.