We all know the order sets for DKA, a bunch of 0.9% NaCl first boluses then drip, insulin drip, replace electrolytes, glucose gets to a certain number, change the fluids to 0.9% NaCl that contains dextrose, wait for the anion gap to close, give long acting insulin, wait a bit, turn off the drip, discharge planning. It’s simple stuff, really. I may have oversimplified it but you know exactly what the protocol is at your facility. Truth is, though, is that the best for these sick patients? Would DKA they do better with balanced salt solutions like lactated ringers or plasma-lyte?
This study from 2011 states that there are 100,000 hospitalizations for DKA annually in the US. They knew from prior literature that using a bunch of saline solution causes a hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis. They wanted to see if it would happen in this patient population. They conducted a randomized double blind study providing these patients with either 0.9% NaCl solution or Plasma-lyte. For those of you who do not know what plasma-lyte is, go check out my YouTube videos (/shameless plug). They used their typical DKA protocol for their institution which is described in the article.
The study took 24 months and they ended up with 23 patients in the “normal saline” group and 22 patients in the plasma-lyte group. It was entertaining to see that at baseline, before a drop of fluid was even given, the serum chloride of the saline group was less than the PL group: 94 vs 98 (p=0.027). When the study was said and done, however, the chloride level was 111 in the NS group and 105 in the PL group (p < 0.001). I don’t know if you’ve had time to look at the older things I’ve written/posted but there’s a particular study that comes to mind where the authors found that an increase in serum chloride by 5 increases your chances of developing acute kidney injury. There was also a significant difference in the serum bicarb level where the NS group has a bicarb increase of 7 whereas the PL group had an increase of 9 (p=0.023). The authors did not follow renal function in these patients from what I am able to see. The authors admitted that they didn’t know what the clinical significance of all this is. I believe we have data now with more recent studies to show us what the clinical significance actually is. Balanced salt solutions are better for DKA.
Mahler SA, Conrad SA, Wang H, et al. Resuscitation with balanced electrolyte solution prevents hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. Am J Emerg Med 2011; 29: 670–674.
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Mahler SA, Conrad SA, Wang H, Arnold TC. Resuscitation with balanced electrolyte solution prevents Mahler SA, Conrad SA, Wang H, Arnold TC. Resuscitation with balanced electrolyte solution prevents hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Jul;29(6):670-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.02.004. Epub 2010 May 1. PMID: 20825879.
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