Sodium bicarbonate therapy for critically ill patients with metabolic acidosis: A scoping and a systematic review

J Crit Care. 2019 Jun:51:184-191. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2019.02.027. Epub 2019 Feb 26.


Purpose: We aimed to assess the biochemical and physiological effects, clinical efficacy, and safety, of intravenous NaHCO3 therapy in critically ill patients with acute metabolic acidosis.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review concerning the biochemical and physiological effects of NaHCO3 (PART A), and a systematic review regarding clinical efficacy (PART B). We searched MEDLINE in Part A and MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, the National Institute of Health Clinical Trials Register, and the WHOICTRP for randomised controlled trials in Part B.

Results: Twelve studies in Part A and two trials in Part B fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Intravenous NaHCO3 increased blood pH, base excess, serum bicarbonate, sodium, and PaCO2 during and after administration and decreased anion gap and potassium value. For clinical efficacy, only one study contributed to the effect estimate. The risk ratio (RR) for all-cause mortality was 0.83 (95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.02), and the risk of hypocalcaemia was increased in the bicarbonate group (RR 1.65, 95% confidence interval 1.09 to 2.50). There were inadequate data on hemodynamic indices.

Conclusions: Given the lack of data on the effects of intravenous NaHCO3 therapy to support its clinical use and the frequency of bicarbonate therapy, a program of investigation appears justified.

Keywords: Intensive care; Metabolic acidosis; Sodium bicarbonate; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / drug therapy*
  • Acidosis / mortality
  • Beryllium / blood
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Potassium / blood
  • Sodium / blood
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Sodium
  • Beryllium
  • Potassium