Acute severe metabolic acidosis associated with lactic acidosis or ketoacidosis can have severe detrimental effects on organ function, and might contribute to mortality. A general consensus exists that elimination of the cause of the acidosis is essential for treatment, but there is controversy concerning the use of base for the treatment of these disorders. Some physicians advocate administration of base when the acidosis is severe to prevent a decrease in cardiac output, whereas others oppose administration of base even when the acidosis is severe given the potential compromise of cardiac function. Nephrologists and critical care specialists are often the physicians developing recommendations for the treatment of severe acid-base disorders.
A short online survey of 20 questions was developed to assess the approach to the treatment of acute metabolic acidosis of program directors of fellowship programs and experts from the specialties of critical care and nephrology.
Although there was variability among individual physicians from both specialties, a larger percentage of nephrologists than critical care physicians queried recommended administration of base for the treatment of lactic acidosis (86% vs 67%) and ketoacidosis (60% vs 28%). Also, critical care physicians in general used a lower level of blood pH when deciding when to initiate treatment. Of the physicians who gave base, most utilized sodium bicarbonate as the form of base given.
The results of this survey indicate that the decisions whether to use base for the treatment of acute severe metabolic acidosis, and under which circumstances, vary among physicians, and indicate the need for further studies to develop evidence-based guidelines for therapy.
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Kraut, J., Kurtz, I. Use of base in the treatment of acute severe organic acidosis by nephrologists and critical care physicians: results of an online survey. Clin Exp Nephrol 10, 111–117 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10157-006-0408-9