High anion gap metabolic acidosis

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High anion gap metabolic acidosis
Cat mudpiles - causes of high anion-gap metabolic acidosis.svg
SpecialtyNephrology Edit this on Wikidata

High anion gap metabolic acidosis is a form of metabolic acidosis characterized by a high anion gap (a medical value based on the concentrations of ions in a patient's serum). Metabolic acidosis occurs when the body produces too much acid, or when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body. Several types of metabolic acidosis occur, grouped by their influence on the anion gap. The anion gap can be increased due to relatively low levels of cations other than sodium and potassium (e.g. calcium or magnesium). An anion gap is usually considered to be high if it is over 12 mEq/L.

High anion gap metabolic acidosis is typically caused by acid produced by the body. More rarely, it may be caused by ingesting methanol or overdosing on aspirin.[1][2] The Delta Ratio is a formula that can be used to assess elevated anion gap metabolic acidosis and to evaluate whether mixed acid base disorder (metabolic acidosis) is present. The list of agents that cause high anion gap metabolic acidosis is similar to but broader than the list of agents that cause a serum osmolal gap.


The most common causes of high anion gap metabolic acidosis are: ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis, renal failure, and toxic ingestions.[3]

Ketoacidosis can occur as a complication of type I diabetes mellitus (diabetic ketoacidosis), but can occur due to other disorders, such as chronic alcoholism and undernutrition. In these conditions, excessive free fatty acid metabolism results in the production of ketoacids, acetoacetic acid, and beta-hydroxybuterate.

Lactic acidosis results from excess formation and decreased metabolism of lactate, which occurs during states of anaerobic metabolism. It is the most common cause of metabolic acidosis in hospitalized patients. The most serious form occurs during various states of shock, due to episodes of decreased liver perfusion.

Renal failure results in decreased acid excretion and increased bicarbonate excretion.

Toxins that result in acidic metabolites may trigger lactic acidosis. Rhabdomyolysis, a muscle-wasting disease, is a rare cause of metabolic acidosis.


Various memnomics are used to assist clinicians in the detection and diagnosis of conditions that may result in high anion gap metabolic acidosis:

The newer 2008 mnemonic "GOLD MARK" was proposed in The Lancet reflecting current causes of anion gap metabolic acidosis:[4]

The mnemonic MUDPILES is commonly used to remember the causes of increased anion gap metabolic acidosis.[5][6]

Another frequently used mnemonic is KARMEL.

Another frequently used mnemonic is KULT.[8]

The preferred mnemonic of D. Robert Dufour, the chief of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is DUMPSALE, which omits the I of MUDPILES as the proposed values of *I* are exceedingly rare in clinical practice.[citation needed]

  • D — Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • U — Uremia
  • M — Methanol
  • P — Paraldehyde
  • S — Salicylates
  • A — Alcoholic ketoacidosis
  • L — Lactic acidosis
  • E — Ethylene Glycol

The mnemonic for the [rare, in comparison] toxins is ACE GIFTs: Aspirin, Cyanide, Ethanolic ketosis, Glycols [ ethylene and propylene ], Isoniazid, Ferrous iron, Toluene. Most of these cause a lactic acidosis.[citation needed]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anion Gap (Blood)". University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
  2. ^ Sabatini, S.; Kurtzman, N. A. (2008). "Bicarbonate Therapy in Severe Metabolic Acidosis". Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 20 (4): 692–5. doi:10.1681/asn.2007121329. PMID 18322160.
  3. ^ "Metabolic Acidosis - Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders".
  4. ^ Mehta, Ankit N; Emmett, Joshua B; Emmett, Michael (2008). "GOLD MARK: An anion gap mnemonic for the 21st century". The Lancet. 372 (9642): 892. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61398-7. PMID 18790311.
  5. ^ MedicalMnemonics.com: 1203 3255
  6. ^ Anion Gap: Acid Base Tutorial, University of Connecticut Health Center
  7. ^ Carmody, J Bryan; Norwood, Victoria F (2012). "A clinical approach to paediatric acid–base disorders". Postgraduate Medical Journal. 88 (1037): 143–51. doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2011-130191. PMID 22267531.
  8. ^ "Metabolic Acidosis, Stepwise Approach to ABGs: Acid Base Tutorial, University of Connecticut Health Center". fitsweb.uchc.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  9. ^ Chang, Chin-Tung; Chen, Yung-Chang; Fang, Ji-Tseng; Huang, Chiu-Ching (2009). "High Anion Gap Metabolic Acidosis in Suicide: Don't Forget Metformin Intoxication—Two Patients' Experiences". Renal Failure. 24 (5): 671–5. doi:10.1081/JDI-120013973. PMID 12380915.
  10. ^ "Metabolic Acidosis: Acid-Base Regulation and Disorders: Merck Manual Professional". Retrieved 2008-12-04.

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