Diabetic ketoacidosis

Am Fam Physician. 2005 May 1;71(9):1705-14.

Abstract

A diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis requires the patient's plasma glucose concentration to be above 250 mg per dL (although it usually is much higher), the pH level to be less than 7.30, and the bicarbonate level to be 18 mEq per L or less. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a better measurement of the degree of ketosis than serum ketones. Intravenous insulin and fluid replacement are the mainstays of therapy, with careful monitoring of potassium levels. Phosphorous and magnesium also may need to be replaced. Bicarbonate therapy rarely is needed. Infection, insulin omission, and other problems that may have precipitated ketoacidosis should be treated. Myocardial infarction is a precipitating cause of diabetic ketoacidosis that is especially important to look for in older patients with diabetes. Cerebral edema is a major complication that occurs primarily in children. Education to prevent recurrence should be offered to all patients, including how to manage sick days and when to call a physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / blood
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / drug therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Prognosis
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed

Substances

  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin