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Highly Accessed Letter

Causes and effects of hyperchloremic acidosis

Michael Eisenhut

Author Affiliations

Institute of Child Health, University of Liverpool, Eaton Road, Liverpool L12 2AP, UK

Critical Care 2006, 10:413  doi:10.1186/cc4963


See related research by Gunnerson KJ et al, http://ccforum.com/content/10/1/R22

Published: 29 June 2006

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

Gunnerson and colleagues [1] found in their retrospective study that critically ill patients with lactate acidosis had a higher mortality compared to patients with hyperchloremic acidosis, whose mortality was not significantly different from patients with no acidosis. Because of its iatrogenic etiology the authors commented that it is reassuring that hyperchloremic acidosis is not associated with an increased mortality. Previous randomized controlled trials have, however, generated concerns regarding the adverse effects of hyperchloremic acidosis associated with rapid isotonic saline administration. Rapid isotonic saline infusion predictably results in hyperchloremic acidosis [2]. The acidosis is due to a reduction in the strong anion gap by an excessive rise in plasma chloride as well as excessive renal bicarbonate elimination. In a randomized controlled trial with a mixed group of patients undergoing major surgery, isotonic saline infusion was compared to Hartmann's solution with 6% hetastarch with a balanced electrolyte and glucose solution. Two-thirds of patients in the isotonic saline group but none in the balanced fluid group developed hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis [3]. The hyperchloremic acidosis was associated with reduced gastric mucosal perfusion on gastric tonometry. Another randomized double blind trial of isotonic saline versus lactated Ringer's in patients undergoing aortic reconstructive surgery confirmed this result and the acidosis required interventions like bicarbonate infusion and was associated with the application of more blood products [4].