Published online Nov 15, 2018. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v9.i11.199
Peer-review started: July 22, 2018
First decision: August 9, 2018
Revised: August 30, 2018
Accepted: October 9, 2018
Article in press: October 9, 2018
Published online: November 15, 2018
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a severe and too-common complication of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. Acidosis is one of the fundamental disruptions stemming from the disease process, the complications of which are potentially lethal. Hydration and insulin administration have been the cornerstones of DKA therapy; however, adjunctive treatments such as the use of sodium bicarbonate and protocols that include serial monitoring with blood gas analysis have been much more controversial. There is substantial literature available regarding the use of exogenous sodium bicarbonate in mild to moderately severe acidosis; the bulk of the data argue against significant benefit in important clinical outcomes and suggest possible adverse effects with the use of bicarbonate. However, there is scant data to support or refute the role of bicarbonate therapy in very severe acidosis. Arterial blood gas (ABG) assessment is an element of some treatment protocols, including society guidelines, for DKA. We review the evidence supporting these recommendations. In addition, we review the data supporting some less cumbersome tests, including venous blood gas assessment and routine chemistries. It remains unclear that measurement of blood gas pH, via arterial or venous sampling, impacts management of the patient substantially enough to warrant the testing, especially if sodium bicarbonate administration is not being considered. There are special circumstances when serial ABG monitoring and/or sodium bicarbonate infusion are necessary, which we also review. Additional studies are needed to determine the utility of these interventions in patients with severe DKA and pH less than 7.0.
Core tip: Serial arterial blood gas measurements and intravenous sodium bicarbonate are often used to assess and correct acidosis associated with diabetic ketoacidosis. The available literature, primarily in patients with mild to moderately severe acidosis, does not support the routine use of sodium bicarbonate. Additionally, arterial sampling for blood gas measurement may not be necessary, nor does it appear to substantially add to the care of these patients. While neither intervention may be needed on a routine basis, there are special circumstances when either, or both, of these modalities is indicated and useful.