Bicarbonate Therapy for Critically Ill Patients With Metabolic Acidosis: A Systematic Review

Cureus. 2019 Mar 22;11(3):e4297. doi: 10.7759/cureus.4297.


The management of acid-base disorders always calls for precise diagnosis and treatment of the underlying disease. Sometimes additional means are necessary to combat systemic acidity itself. In this systematic review, we discuss the concept and some specific aspects of bicarbonate therapy for critically ill patients with metabolic acidosis (i.e., patients with blood pH < 7.35). We conducted a systematic literature review of three online databases (PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane) in November 2018 to validate usage of bicarbonate therapy for critically ill patients with metabolic acidosis. Twelve trials and case series were included in the final analysis, from which we assessed population, intervention, comparison, and outcome data. The current literature suggests limited benefit from bicarbonate therapy for patients with severe metabolic acidosis (pH < 7.1 and bicarbonate < 6 mEq/L). However, bicarbonate therapy does yield improvement in survival for patients with accompanying acute kidney injury.

Keywords: bicarbonate; metabolic acidosis; sodium bicarbonate.

Publication types

  • Review