What serum HCO3- levels suggest metabolic acidosis and renal failure?

Updated: Oct 10, 2018
  • Author: Christie P Thomas, MBBS, FRCP, FASN, FAHA; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

In general, patients with renal failure tend to have a serum HCO3- level greater than 12 mEq/L, and buffering by the skeleton prevents further decline in serum HCO3-. Note that patients with hypobicarbonatemia from renal failure cannot compensate for additional HCO3- loss from an extrarenal source (eg, diarrhea), and severe metabolic acidosis can develop rapidly.


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