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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;56 Suppl 4:155-70.

Essentials in the diagnosis of acid-base disorders and their high altitude application.

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Institute of Medical Physiology, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


This report describes the historical development in the clinical application of chemical variables for the interpretation of acid-base disturbances. The pH concept was already introduced in 1909. Following World War II, disagreements concerning the definition of acids and bases occurred, and since then two strategies have been competing. Danish scientists in 1923 defined an acid as a substance able to give off a proton at a given pH, and a base as a substance that could bind a proton, whereas the North American Singer-Hasting school in 1948 defined acids as strong non-buffer anions and bases as non-buffer cations. As a consequence of this last definition, electrolyte disturbances were mixed up with real acid-base disorders and the variable, strong ion difference (SID), was introduced as a measure of non-respiratory acid-base disturbances. However, the SID concept is only an empirical approximation. In contrast, the Astrup/Siggaard-Andersen school of scientists, using computer strategies and the Acid-base Chart, has made diagnosis of acid-base disorders possible at a glance on the Chart, when the data are considered in context with the clinical development. Siggaard-Andersen introduced Base Excess (BE) or Standard Base Excess (SBE) in the extracellular fluid volume (ECF), extended to include the red cell volume (eECF), as a measure of metabolic acid-base disturbances and recently replaced it by the term Concentration of Titratable Hydrogen Ion (ctH). These two concepts (SBE and ctH) represent the same concentration difference, but with opposite signs. Three charts modified from the Siggaard-Andersen Acid-Base Chart are presented for use at low, medium and high altitudes of 2500 m, 3500 m, and 4000 m, respectively. In this context, the authors suggest the use of Titratable Hydrogen Ion concentration Difference (THID) in the extended extracellular fluid volume, finding it efficient and better than any other determination of the metabolic component in acid-base disturbances. The essential variable is the hydrogen ion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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