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Br J Dis Chest. 1975 Apr;69(2):75-102.

The physiological assessment of acid-base balance.


Acid-base terminology including the sue of SI units is reviewed. The historical reasons why nomograms have been particularly used in acid-base work are discussed. The theoretical basis of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation is considered. It is emphasized that the solubility of CO2 in plasma and the apparent first dissociation constant of carbonic acid are not chemical constants when applied to media of uncertain and varying composition such as blood plasma. The use of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation in making hypothermia corrections for PCO2 is discussed. The Astrup system for the in vitro determination of blood gases and derived parameters is described and the theoretical weakness of the base excess concept stressed. A more clinically-oriented approach to the assessment of acid-base problems is presented. Measurement of blood [H+] and PCO2 are considered to be primary data which should be recorded on a chart with in vivo CO2-titration lines (see below). Clinical information and results of other laboratory investigations such as plasma bicarbonate, PO2,P50 are then to be considered together with the primary data. In order to interpret this combined information it is essential to take into account the known ventilatory response to metabolic acidosis and alkalosis, and the renal response to respiratory acidosis and alkalosis. The use is recommended of a chart showing the whole-body CO2-titration points obtained when patients with different initial levels of non-respiratory [H+] are ventilated. A number of examples are given of the use of this [H+] and PCO2 in vivo chart in the interpretation of acid-base data. The aetiology, prognosis and treatment of metabolic alkalosis is briefly reviewed. Treatment with intravenous acid is recommended for established cases. Attention is drawn to the possibility of iatrogenic production of metabolic alkalosis. Caution is expressed over the use of intravenous alkali in all but the severest cases of metabolic acidosis. The role of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate on tissue oxygenation is stressed and use of intravenous sodium phosphate as an alternative to intravenous bicarbonate is mentioned.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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