“Ms. CC,” a 47-year-old African American woman, was admitted with progressive weakness and encephalopathy. Past medical history included bipolar disorder, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on hemodialysis three times weekly, secondary hyperparathyroidism, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and chronic pancytopenia. Pertinent home medications included VPA 2,500 mg total daily, calcium acetate 667 mg three times daily, and cinacalcet 30 mg daily. Upon admission, VPA level was 130 mcg/ml (ref: 50–100). Laboratory values upon admission were consistent with her ESRD and chronic pancytopenia. Liver function tests were within normal limits. Her phosphorous was 3.5 mg/dl; ionized calcium was 1.20 mmol/liter; 25-hydroxyvitamin D was 7 ng/ml; and PTH was 233 pg/ml.
Her presentation was attributed to VPA toxicity; therefore this was initially held. Calcium acetate was continued. On Day 8 of hospitalization, VPA 500 mg twice daily was restarted. Given her NASH and concern for VPA toxicity, L-carnitine 990 mg twice daily was administered. After 2 days of levocarnitine, her phosphorous level fell to 1.5 mg/dl, from 2.3 mg/dl before levocarnitine. Her hypophosphatemia was initially attributed to calcium acetate, which was discontinued. Phosphorous levels continued to decline over the next 2 days (1.3, 1.4 mg/dl, respectively). L-carnitine was discontinued. Her phosphorous increased to 1.8 mg/dl. Calcitriol 0.25 mg daily was started for her hyperparathyroidism. She was discharged to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.