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Pathophysiology, causes, and management of metabolic alkalosis in the critically ill 

Pathophysiology, causes, and management of metabolic alkalosis in the critically ill
Chapter:
Pathophysiology, causes, and management of metabolic alkalosis in the critically ill
Author(s):

Serge Brimioulle

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199600830.003.0257
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date: 04 December 2020

Metabolic alkalosis occurs in up 51% of abnormal acid-base samples in the hospital. It is characterized by a primary increase in bicarbonate concentration and is always associated with chloride depletion. In critically-ill patients, it is most often generated by diuretic administration, digestive losses, alkali administration, or rapid correction of hypercapnia. Even after all causal factor are removed, it can be maintained by blood volume depletion and potassium depletion. Metabolic alkalosis results in hypercapnia, hypoxaemia, cardiac arrhythmias, altered consciousness, and neuromuscular hyperexcitability. It is first treated by removing the causal factors, whenever possible. Maintaining factors must be reversed by sodium chloride and/or potassium chloride administration. Acetazolamide and renal replacement therapy, when given for specific indications, can also correct the alkalosis. Lysine and arginine chloride are no longer used. If metabolic alkalosis is severe or when other treatments are contraindicated or ineffective, hydrochloric acid infusion is useful. Dilute hydrochloric acid can be infused safely, provided adequate precautions are taken to prevent extravascular leakage, vessel damage, and tissue necrosis.

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