What is alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA)?

Updated: Aug 27, 2020
  • Author: George Ansstas, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

In 1940, Dillon and colleagues first described alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) as a distinct syndrome. AKA is characterized by metabolic acidosis with an elevated anion gap, elevated serum ketone levels, and a normal or low glucose concentration. [1, 2, 3]  The diagnosis of AKA requires arterial blood gas (ABG) measurement and serum chemistry assays.

Although AKA most commonly occurs in adults with alcoholism, it has been reported in less-experienced drinkers of all ages. Patients typically have a recent history of binge drinking, little or no food intake, and persistent vomiting. [4, 5, 6] A concomitant metabolic alkalosis is common, secondary to vomiting and volume depletion (see Workup). [7]


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