Is There a System for Lithium Monitoring?
[Home] [Bipolar News] [Bipolar Disorder] [Medications] [Treatments] [Bipolar Disorder/Job/School] [Disabilities] [Ask the Doctor] [Ask David] [Self-Injury] [Personal Stories] [Graham's Column] [Steven's Column] [Storm's Column] [Columnist Archives] [Suicide] [Community Support] [Family Members] [Expressions] [Greeting Cards] [Books] [Awards] [Links & Rings] [About Us] [Contact Us]


Q:  Is There a System for Lithium Monitoring?

Dear Doctor Phelps,

Maintaining balanced levels of Lithium seems to be an important  issue in the the avoidance of side effects. Though no substitute for lab testing and monitoring by a competent Psychiatrist, it would perhaps be useful if someone made a Lithium monitoring Gizmo, a bit like the diabetic folks have for checking their blood glucose levels. Are you aware of such a device? 

Thank you.

Hello Simon Ė
Fingerstick lithium level systems do exist. One was FDA approved several years ago, but Iíve not seen much evidence of it being distributed, or marketed.  It costs $400.  The target users are doctorsí offices,  not individuals. I just looked to see if the company is online, and surprisingly found very little.  The patent holder is Akers, the device is called InstaRead Lithium,  and the company marketing it is ReliaLab, Inc., of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. (Why are they not on the internet?)

As you point out, there is no substitute for laboratory testing.  When I get a lithium level, I also have the opportunity to check a routine test of kidney function, creatinine, which I track over time (because after years of lithium use, particularly at high serum levels, there is a tendency for kidney function to decrease, and this routine test can see that coming).

Likewise, checking thyroid function is also important when people are taking lithium.  Not every time, but often, I will check a thyroid status when checking lithium. since neither creatinine nor thyroid status can be tested using a finger stick method, Iíve not been strongly inclined to use this in-office lithium testing system.

Finally, lithium levels should generally be stable enough, and far enough away from any problem levels, that routine monitoring and home is not necessary.  Thatís quite different from measuring glucose for people with diabetes, where big fluctuations can occur spontaneously and need quick management.

So overall, Iím not too enthused about the finger stick method, as you can gather.  But this tool has only recently arrived.  I will keep an open mind to see how it might be useful.

Dr. Phelps

Published June, 2009



Bipolar World   © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Allie Bloom, David Schafer, M.Ed. (Blackdog)
Partners:  John Haeckel, Judith (Duff) 
Founder:  Colleen Sullivan

Email Us at Bipolar World


About Us  Add a Link  Advance Directives  Alternative Treatments  Ask the Doctor   Ask Dr. Plyler about Bipolar Disorder   Ask The Doctor/ Topic Archives  Awards  Benny the Bipolar Puppy  Bipolar Chat  Bipolar Children  Bipolar Disorder News  Bipolar Help Contract  Bipolar World Forums  Book Reviews  Bookstore  BP & Other mental Illness   Clinical Research Trials & FDA Drug Approval   Community Support   Contact Us  The Continuum of Mania and Depression   Coping   Criteria    Criteria and Diagnosis  Criteria-World Health Disabilities,  DSMV-IV   Dual Diagnosis  eGroups  Expressions (Poetry, Inspiration, Humor, Art Gallery, Memorials  Family Members   Getting Help for a Loved One who Refuses Treatment  Greeting Cards  History of Mental Illness  Indigo  Job and School  Links  Manage Your Medications  Medications   Medication and Weight Gain    News of the Day  Parent Chat  Pay for Meds  Personal Stories  Self Help  Self Injury  Significant Others  Stigma and Mental Health Law  Storm's Column  Suicide!!!  The Suicide Wall  Table of Contents   Treatments  Treatment Compliance  US Disability  Veteran's Chat  What's New?