Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (2024)

Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (1)


Variability in monthly serum bicarbonatemeasures in hemodialysis patients: a cohortstudyRavi Patel1, William Paredes2, Charles B. Hall3,4, Mark A. Nader5, Deepak Sapkota6, Vaughn W. Folkert2

and Matthew K. Abramowitz2,3*


Background: Some nephrologists have advocated an individualized approach to the prescription of bicarbonatehemodialysis. However, the utility of monthly serum bicarbonate levels for guiding and evaluating such treatmentdecisions has not been evaluated. We sought to define the variability of these measurements and to determinefactors that are associated with month-to-month variability in pre-dialysis serum bicarbonate.

Methods: We examined the monthly variability in serum bicarbonate measurements among 181 hemodialysispatients admitted to a free-standing dialysis unit in the Bronx, NY from 1/1/2008-6/30/2012. All patients weretreated with a uniform bicarbonate dialysis prescription (bicarbonate 35 mEq/L, acetate 8 mEq/L). Pre-dialysis serumbicarbonate values were obtained from monthly laboratory reports. Month-to-month variability was defined using arolling measurement for each time point.

Results: Only 34 % of high serum bicarbonate values (>26 mEq/L) remained high in the subsequent month,whereas 60 % converted to normal (22–26 mEq/L). Of all low values (<22 mEq/L), 41 % were normal the followingmonth, while 58 % remained low. Using the mean 3-month bicarbonate, only 29 % of high values remained highin the next 3-month period. In multivariable-adjusted longitudinal models, both low and high serum bicarbonatevalues were associated with greater variability than were normal values (β = 0.12 (95 % CI 0.09–0.15) and 0.24(0.18 to 0.29) respectively). Variability decreased with time, and was significantly associated with age, phosphatebinder use, serum creatinine, potassium, and normalized protein catabolic rate.

Conclusions: Monthly pre-dialysis serum bicarbonate levels are highly variable. Even if a clinician takes no action,approximately 50 % of bicarbonate values outside a normal range of 22–26 mEq/L will return to normal in thesubsequent month. The decision to change the bicarbonate dialysis prescription should not be based on a singlebicarbonate value, and even a 3-month mean may be insufficient.

Keywords: Bicarbonate, Acidosis, Alkalosis, Variability, Hemodialysis, End-stage renal disease

BackgroundMetabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stagerenal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3].The accumulation of acid in the interdialytic period istypically neutralized by HD three times per week with asolution containing a relatively high concentration of

bicarbonate buffer. The therapeutic goal for HD patientsper KDOQI guidelines is to maintain pre-dialysis serumbicarbonate ≥22 mEq/L [4]. Some would advocate main-taining pre-dialysis bicarbonate levels higher than22 mEq/L but below a yet-to-be-defined ceiling becausestudies have shown that both metabolic acidosis andmetabolic alkalosis are associated with increased mortal-ity in this population [1, 2].One approach to achieving a target level of serum bi-

carbonate is to individualize therapy based on monthlyserum bicarbonate levels [5, 6]. However, well-defined

* Correspondence: [emailprotected] of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College ofMedicine, Bronx, NY, USA3Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College ofMedicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Ullmann 615, Bronx, NY 10461, USAFull list of author information is available at the end of the article

© 2015 Patel et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, andreproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link tothe Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 DOI 10.1186/s12882-015-0206-2


Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (2)

protocols are not in widespread use, and the task ismade more difficult by the variety of physiological fac-tors affecting acid-base balance in ESRD patients [7, 8].In addition to the effects of nutrition, volume status, anddialysis adequacy, the delivery of an alkali load maystimulate organic acid generation in some patients,thereby mitigating alkalinization [8, 9]. Furthermore,there may be a great deal of variability in a patient’s bi-carbonate level from month to month, but this has notyet been systematically examined. The purpose of thisstudy is to examine the nature of that variability andwhether patient characteristics and other biomarkerscan predict variability.We hypothesized that there is substantial intra-

individual variability in monthly serum bicarbonatelevels. To investigate this, we examined monthly labora-tory data for consecutive patients at one of our affiliateddialysis units over a 4-year period. All patients receiveda uniform dialysis bicarbonate prescription, and no pa-tients prescribed oral alkali were included. We soughtto define the magnitude of bicarbonate variability andto determine if this variability was explained by factorssuch as dialysis treatment characteristics, markers ofnutritional status and inflammation, and interdialyticweight gain.

MaterialsStudy populationWe conducted this retrospective cohort study in anurban, academically affiliated dialysis center in theBronx, NY. All patients at this center were treated witha uniform bicarbonate dialysis prescription of 35 mEq/Land a dialysate containing 8 mEq/L acetate during thestudy period. Our study cohort consisted of all patientsreceiving HD who were admitted to this facility betweenJanuary 1, 2008 and June 30, 2012 for at least a 3 monthperiod and did not meet exclusion criteria. Out of 291patients admitted during this time period, 74 were ex-cluded because they did not receive care at this centerfor at least three consecutive months, 23 because theywere peritoneal dialysis patients, and 11 due to missingdata. After the exclusion of two patients who were tak-ing oral sodium bicarbonate, 181 patients were includedin the final cohort, with 4104 monthly observations.

Data collectionDemographic information and medical history were ob-tained from the patients’ medical records. Informationon medical history and phosphate binder type and dosewas recorded from the monthly progress note, and epoe-tin alpha administration was recorded from the dialysisprovider’s computerized database. For modeling in re-gression analyses, phosphate binder use was categorizedbased on the number of pills prescribed of an acid-

(sevelamer hydrochloride) or base- (all other binders)precursor. Information on other prescription medica-tions was recorded at baseline. Cardiovascular diseasewas defined as a history of coronary artery disease,stroke, peripheral vascular disease, or congestive heartfailure. Laboratory data including serum bicarbonatelevels were obtained from the patients’ monthly pre-dialysis laboratory reports. In total, 92.6 % of laboratorydata were collected on Monday or Tuesday, per standardpractice in this dialysis unit. As serum bicarbonatevalues collected on Monday or Tuesday did not differfrom other days of the week (22.6 ± 3.0 mEq/L Monday/Tuesday vs. 22.4 ± 3.6 mEq/L other days, p = 0.2), we didnot include the day of sample collection in our analyses.Ultrafiltration volume was used as a surrogate for inter-dialytic weight gain (IDWG), which was defined as thedifference between the pre- and post-dialysis weightafter a single monthly HD session. We excluded IDWGvalues <0 and >7 kg as we considered these implausible.Complete data for all covariates of interest was availablefor 3833 observations in 180 patients. The study proto-col was approved by the Institutional Review Board ofthe Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which granted awaiver of informed consent due to the retrospective, ob-servational design of the study.

Outcome measuresWe first examined scatterplots of monthly bicarbonatevalues with the bicarbonate value in the subsequentmonth, and we calculated the intraclass correlation coef-ficient (ICC) for serum bicarbonate overall and within6 month time periods. For comparison with another la-boratory measure that is highly predictive of clinical out-comes, we repeated these analyses for serum albumin.We classified each serum bicarbonate value into clinicalcategories using cutpoints that were based on outcomesdata in published epidemiologic studies [1, 2, 10], clinicalpractice guidelines [4], and proposals for clinical practice[3, 11]: low (<22 mEq/L), normal (22–26 mEq/L), andhigh (>26 mEq/L). We then examined the likelihood of aserum bicarbonate value remaining in the same clinicalcategory on a subsequent month. We repeated this ana-lysis after categorizing patients based on tertiles of meanserum bicarbonate in the first 90 days after admission tothe dialysis unit, and within tertiles of the variabilityindex (Variability Value) defined below. We also calcu-lated the mean serum bicarbonate during 3-month inter-vals, categorized these using the same cutpoints, andcalculated the percentage that remained in the same cat-egory in the subsequent 3-month period.We quantified the month-to-month variability in

serum bicarbonate by defining a rolling measurementfor each time point i as follows:

Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 Page 2 of 11

Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (3)

Variability Value VVð Þ ¼

ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiBICARBi – BICARBi−1ð Þ2þ BICARBi – BICARBiþ1ð Þ2



For each patient, we calculated the mean VV of all ob-servations. The lowest, middle, and highest tertiles ofmean VV were used to classify patients as having low,medium, and high variability, respectively.

Statistical analysisBaseline laboratory values were defined as the mean ofall measurements available during the first 90 days afteradmission to the dialysis unit. We first characterized thecohort based on baseline serum bicarbonate values todetermine if the associations in our cohort were consist-ent with previous reports. Characteristics of the popula-tion categorized by quartiles of serum bicarbonate werecompared using χ2 for categorical variables and analysis-of-variance or the Kruskal-Wallis test for continuousvariables.Mixed-effects models including time as a random ef-

fect were used to examine associations over time ofdemographic, clinical, and laboratory characteristics withserum bicarbonate and VV, separately. As VV did not fita Normal distribution, it was log-transformed after add-ing 1 to the value because VV contained ‘zero’ values:logVV = ln(VV + 1 mEq/L). Demographics, comorbidi-ties, dialysis access type, IDWG, phosphate binder andepoetin alpha prescriptions, and laboratory values re-lated to nutritional status, inflammation, and dialysis ad-equacy were included in the models based on a prioriknowledge of the physiology of acid-base regulation inhemodialysis and previously demonstrated associationswith serum bicarbonate. Medications recorded only atbaseline, dialysis treatment time, blood flow rate, and di-alysate flow rate were considered for inclusion based ona p-value <0.20 or >15 % change in other parameters.The association of each covariate with the outcome wastested for linearity using higher-order terms and categor-ical variables; non-linear associations were modeled byincluding both linear and quadratic terms in the model,or with categorical variables. As serum creatinine wasunavailable in one patient, the multivariable models in-cluded 180 patients. The models were fitted with an in-dependent variance-covariance structure of the randomeffects; using an unstructured covariance matrix did notchange the results. To examine whether the associationof serum bicarbonate level and monthly variability variedwith time, we a priori determined to examine the inter-action of serum bicarbonate (in clinical categories) withtime in models with logVV as the dependent variable. Pvalues for interaction with time were not calculated forother covariates as these were considered exploratoryanalyses. Statistical analyses were performed using Stata

software, version 13.1 (Stata Corporation, CollegeStation, TX, USA). A p-value <0.05 was considered statis-tically significant.

ResultsPatient characteristicsThe baseline characteristics of the study participants areshown in Table 1. The mean age was 56 years, 41 % werefemale, and the majority were Black or Hispanic (44 and40 %, respectively). Comorbidities were common, anddiabetes mellitus was the most common cause of ESRD.The initial access type was a catheter in 41 % of patients,although nearly all (62 of 75) eventually transitioned toeither an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) or an arteriovenousgraft (AVG). Phosphate binders were prescribed in 86 %of patients within 120 days of admission to the dialysisunit. Only eight patients were never prescribed a phos-phate binder for the duration of follow-up. The meanserum bicarbonate during the first 90 days was 23.0 ±2.2 mEq/L. Smoking status was not recorded for manypatients (39 %). The median follow-up time was19 months (interquartile range, 10–33) with a range of4–56 months.

Associations of patient characteristics with serumbicarbonate levelsIn univariate analyses, baseline serum bicarbonate wasnot associated with demographics or comorbidities butdiffered significantly across quartiles by use of an ACEinhibitor or ARB. Patients with higher baseline serum bi-carbonate had less IDWG and lower levels of serum po-tassium, albumin, phosphate, and normalized proteincatabolic rate (nPCR) (Additional file 1: Table S1).In longitudinal unadjusted analyses, older age, heart

disease, HD via a tunneled catheter compared to an AVF,single pool Kt/V (spKt/V) ≥1.71 compared to ≤1.51, andhigher serum calcium were each associated with higher bi-carbonate levels (Table 2). The highest category of sevela-mer hydrochloride prescription, greater IDWG, and highernPCR, albumin, hemoglobin, serum potassium, phos-phorus, creatinine, and higher white blood cell (WBC)counts were associated with lower serum bicarbonate overtime. After multivariable adjustment, the associations withsevelamer hydrochloride and all laboratory covariates per-sisted, and there was a significant increase in bicarbonatelevels over time.

Monthly serum bicarbonate variabilityThe ICC for serum albumin was substantially greateroverall and in each 6-month interval than for serum bi-carbonate (Table 3). Scatterplots also demonstratedgreater correlation of a monthly measurement with thesubsequent month’s value for serum albumin than forserum bicarbonate (Fig. 1). We next examined the

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Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (4)

variability of serum bicarbonate measurements in moredetail. Representative plots of serum bicarbonate levelsover time for patients in each of the 3 variability categor-ies are shown in Fig. 2. Substantial month-to-monthvariability is apparent, and appears greatest in the high-est tertile of VV. Overall, 58 % of low serum bicarbonatevalues (<22 mEq/L) remained low in the subsequentmonth (Fig. 3, Additional file 1: Table S2). Of all highvalues (>26 mEq/L), 60 % were normal the followingmonth, while only 34 % remained high. Of all normalvalues (22–26 mEq/L), 68 % remained normal the fol-lowing month. These results were largely unchangedeven when examined within tertiles of the 90-day meanserum bicarbonate (Additional file 1: Figure S1). Onlyamong patients in the lowest tertile of 90-day meanserum bicarbonate were low values more likely to re-main low than to convert to normal the followingmonth. Regardless of 90-day bicarbonate tertile, highvalues were more likely to convert to normal than to re-main high. Using the mean bicarbonate value over 3-month time periods, low and normal values were equally

Table 1 Baseline characteristics of 181 hemodialysis patients

Age (years) 56.0 ± 16.6

Female – n (%) 74 (40.9)

Race/ethnicity – n (%)

Black 79 (43.7)

Hispanic 71 (39.2)

Caucasian 22 (12.1)

Other 9 (5.0)

Hypertension – n (%) 176 (97.2)

Diabetes Mellitus – n (%) 108 (59.7)

Cardiovascular Disease – n (%) 116 (64.1)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease– n (%) 15 (8.3)

Smoking – n (%)

Current 24 (13.3)

Former 33 (18.2)

Never 53 (29.3)

Unknown 71 (39.2)

Body Mass Index - kg/m2 – n (%)

Underweight (≤18.49) 4 (2.2)

Normal (18.5 – 24.9) 62 (34.3)

Overweight (25 – 29.9) 64 (35.4)

Obese (≥30) 51 (28.2)

ESRD Etiology – n (%)

Diabetes 87 (48.1)

Hypertension 45 (24.9)

Glomerulonephritis 12 (6.6)

Polycystic Kidney Disease 3 (1.7)

Lupus 8 (4.4)

HIV 7 (3.9)

Other/Unknown 19 (10.5)

Initial Access Type – n (%)

Catheter 75 (41.4)

AVF 66 (36.5)

AVG 40 (22.1)

Medication use – n (%)

Diuretic 25 (13.8)

ACE inhibitor or ARB 63 (34.8)

Beta blocker 133 (73.5)

Calcium Channel Blocker 109 (60.2)

Statin 93 (51.4)

Proton Pump Inhibitor 51 (28.2)

H2 Blocker 10 (5.5)

Phosphate binder– n (%)a

Sevelamer Hydrochloride 76 (42.0)

Calcium Acetate 38 (21.0)

Sevelamer Carbonate 21 (11.6)

Table 1 Baseline characteristics of 181 hemodialysis patients(Continued)

Lanthanum Carbonate 6 (3.3)

Calcium Carbonate 6 (3.3)

None 34 (18.8)

Epoetin alpha dose (Units)

≤5000 57 (31.5)

>5000 – ≤10,000 96 (53.0)

≥10,000 28 (15.5)

Interdialytic weight gain (kg) 2.77 ± 0.93

Dialysis treatment time (min) 228.4 ± 18.0

Blood flow rate (mL/min) 382 ± 31

Dialysate flow rate (mL/min) 603 ± 33

Serum bicarbonate (mEq/L)b 23.0 ± 2.2

Serum potassium (mEq/L)b 4.6 ± 0.6

Serum albumin (mg/dL)b 3.7 ± 0.5

Serum calcium (mg/dL)b 8.9 ± 0.6

Serum phosphate (mg/dL)b 5.1 ± 1.2

Serum hemoglobin (g/dL)b 10.8 ± 1.2

Serum creatinine (mg/dL)b 8.0 ± 2.9

WBC (103/mm3)b 7.5 ± 2.1

nPCR (g/kg/day)b 0.82 ± 0.18

spKt/Vb 1.6 ± 0.28

Abbreviations: BMI body-mass index; AVF arteriovenous fistula; AVG arteriovenousgraft; ESRD end-stage renal disease; nPCR normalized protein catabolic rate;spKt/V single-pool Kt/V; WBC white blood cellsaPhosphate binder data reflect prescriptions within the first 120 days afteradmission to the dialysis unitbLaboratory data are the mean value of all measurements within the first90 days after admission to the dialysis unit

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Table 2 Longitudinal associations of patient characteristics with serum bicarbonate levels

Unadjusted Multivariable-adjusted

Coefficient (95 % CI) p Coefficient (95 % CI) p

Age (per 10 years) 0.45 (0.29 to 0.61) <0.001 0.07 (−0.10 to 0.25) 0.41

Male −0.54 (−1.12 to 0.05) 0.07 0.09 (−0.45 to 0.63) 0.75


White −0.18 (−1.12 to 0.75) 0.70 −0.61 (−1.45 to 0.23) 0.16

Hispanic/Other −0.44 (−1.06 to 0.17) 0.16 −0.28 (−0.83 to 0.26) 0.31


Overweight 0.06 (−0.63 to 0.74) 0.87 −0.14 (−0.74 to 0.46) 0.66

Obese −0.01 (−0.74 to 0.72) 0.97 0.16 (−0.48 to 0.80) 0.62

Dialysis access

AVG 0.22 (−0.20 to 0.64) 0.31 −0.18 (−0.60 to 0.24) 0.40

Tunneled catheter 0.33 (0.01 to 0.64) 0.04 0.11 (−0.21 to 0.43) 0.50

Etiology of ESRD

Diabetes 0.50 (−0.20 to 1.21) 0.16 0.38 (−0.26 to 1.02) 0.24

Other/Unknown −0.21 (−1.00 to 0.58) 0.60 0.31 (−0.46 to 1.08) 0.43

Cardiovascular Disease 0.90 (0.31 to 1.48) 0.003 0.41 (−0.18 to 1.01) 0.17

Phosphate binder

>6 pills/day acid precursor −1.00 (−1.45 to−0.55) <0.001 −0.49 (−0.95 to−0.03) 0.04

>3−6 pills/day acid precursor −0.39 (−0.81 to 0.03) 0.07 0.02 (−0.41 to 0.44) 0.9

≤3 pills/day acid precursor 0.002 (−0.38 to 0.39) 0.9 0.27 (−0.13 to 0.66) 0.19

≤3 pills/day base precursor 0.004 (−0.37 to 0.37) 0.9 0.29 (−0.08 to 0.66) 0.12

>3–6 pills/day base precursor 0.04 (−0.35 to 0.43) 0.84 0.36 (−0.04 to 0.75) 0.08

>6 pills/day base precursor −0.23 (−0.61 to 0.15) 0.24 0.08 (−0.33 to 0.49) 0.70

IDW gain (kg)

>1–3 −0.28 (−0.60 to 0.05) 0.10 0.26 (−0.04 to 0.56) 0.08

>3–7 −0.65 (−1.01 to−0.30) <0.001 0.15 (−0.18 to 0.47) 0.38

Epoetin alpha dose (Units)

≤5000 0.11 (−0.11 to 0.32) 0.33 −0.01 (−0.20 to 0.19) 0.9

>5000 – ≤10,000 0.16 (−0.09 to 0.40) 0.16 0.05 (−0.18 to 0.28) 0.69

≥10,000 0.04 (−0.30 to 0.38) 0.83 −0.11 (−0.43 to 0.20) 0.47


1.52–1.70 0.12 (−0.8 to 0.32) 0.25 0.25 (0.06 to 0.44) 0.009

≥1.71 0.31 (0.07 to 0.55) 0.01 0.39 (0.16 to 0.62) 0.001

nPCR (g/kg/day) −3.14 (−3.54 to−2.75) <0.001 −1.08 (−1.52 to −0.64) <0.001

Serum albumin (g/dL) −1.06 (−1.32 to−0.80) <0.001 −0.84 (−1.15 to −0.52) <0.001

Hemoglobin (g/dL) −0.25 (−0.30 to −0.19) <0.001 −0.14 (−0.19 to −0.08) <0.001

K+ (mEq/L) −1.13 (−1.25 to −1.00) <0.001 −0.70 (−0.83 to −0.57) <0.001

Calcium (mg/dL) 0.74 (0.62 to 0.87) <0.001 0.95 (0.82 to 1.08) <0.001

Phosphorus (mg/dL) −0.63 (−0.68 to −0.57) <0.001 −0.39 (−0.45 to −0.32) <0.001

WBC (103/mm3)

6.26–8.25 −0.14 (−0.36 to 0.09) 0.23 0.26 (−0.04 to 0.56) 0.08

≥8.26 −0.35 (−0.64 to −0.08) 0.01 −0.35 (−0.61 to −0.10) 0.007

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likely to remain in the same category (69 and 67 %, re-spectively), whereas only 29 % of high values remainedhigh (Fig. 4). When examined within VV tertiles, bicar-bonate values outside the normal range appeared mostlikely to change category among patients with highvariability (i.e. the highest VV tertile) (Additional file 1:Figure S2).

Associations of patient characteristics with monthlybicarbonate variabilityIn multivariable-adjusted longitudinal models, both lowand high serum bicarbonate values were associated withgreater monthly variability (Table 4). Older age andhigher hemoglobin were associated with lower variabil-ity, and variability decreased with time. Use of an AVG(compared with AVF), use of epoetin alpha, and higherserum creatinine were associated with greater variability.Non-linear associations were noted with nPCR, serum K+,and calcium, and there was a trend toward lower variabil-ity with use of any phosphate binder compared with none.Time-stratified analyses suggested that a number of

associations were modified by time and were notdependent on the choice of time cutpoint (6 or12 months) (Table 4, Additional file 1: Table S3). The vari-ability of low bicarbonate values appeared to decrease withtime, whereas that of high values did not (p = 0.02 forinteraction with time). Male sex was associated with lowervariability only in the early period after dialysis initiation.A dialysis access other than an AVF and epoetin alpha usewere associated with greater variability, and phosphate

binder use with lower variability, only after 6–12 monthsof follow-up. Associations of a number of other laboratoryparameters with variability were modified by time, but notin a consistent direction.

DiscussionAcid-base homeostasis in dialysis patients is a complicatedprocess affected by multiple variables, all potentially lead-ing to marked variation in an individual patient’s pre-dialysis serum bicarbonate. Indeed, we found significantvariability in monthly serum bicarbonate measurementsamong patients receiving HD with a uniform bicarbonatedialysis prescription, such that a single measurement

Table 2 Longitudinal associations of patient characteristics with serum bicarbonate levels (Continued)

Serum creatinine (mg/dL) −0.33 (−0.37 to −0.29) <0.001 −0.14 (−0.19 to −0.08) <0.001

Time (months) 0.003 (−0.004 to 0.01) 0.40 0.02 (0.01 to 0.03) <0.001

Abbreviations: CI confidence interval; BMI body-mass index; AVG arteriovenous graft; ESRD end-stage renal disease; ACE-I angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor;ARB angiotensin receptor blocker; nPCR normalized protein catabolic rate; spKt/V single-pool Kt/V; WBC white blood cells; IDW interdialytic weight gainModels included all variables listed in the Table. Reference categories are female for sex; Black for race/ethnicity; normal/underweight for BMI; arteriovenousfistula (AVF) for dialysis access; hypertension for etiology of ESRD; no binder use for phosphate binder; no epoetin alpha use for epoetin alpha dose; 0-1 kg forinterdialytic weight gain; ≤1.51 for spKt/V; ≤6.25 103/mm3 for WBC. Bold values indicate p<0.05.

Table 3 Intraclass correlation coefficients for serum bicarbonateand albumin

Number ofpatients

Number ofobservations(bicarbonate/albumin)



Overall 181 4104/4099 0.38 0.68

0–6 months 181 1160/1156 0.34 0.68

>6–12 months 156 849/849 0.47 0.74

>12–18 months 117 609/609 0.51 0.78

>18–24 months 93 526/525 0.53 0.80

>24–30 months 70 373/373 0.57 0.73

>30–36 months 53 277/277 0.41 0.64

>36 months 36 310/310 0.54 0.61

Fig. 1 Scatterplots demonstrating the correlation of consecutivemonthly measurements. Scatterplots showing the correlation of amonthly measurement (x-axis) with the subsequent monthlymeasurement (y-axis) for serum bicarbonate (top panel) andserum albumin (bottom panel)

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considered high or low based on clinical cutpoints is of lit-tle value. Importantly, there were no changes to patients’dialysis prescriptions, provision of oral alkali, or changesin phosphate binder in response to these monthly labora-tory values. Therefore, even if a clinician takes no action,

approximately 50 % of bicarbonate values outside anormal range of 22–26 mEq/L will return to normal inthe subsequent month. Using the mean value over3 months modestly improves the predictive ability of lowvalues, but not high ones. Regardless, even under the best

If this month’s serum bicarbonate is…



Low (<22)

Normal (22-26)

High (>26)

Next month it will…

















Go toNormal

Go toHigh














Go toLow


Go toHigh














Go toLow

Go toNormal


Fig. 3 Predicting next month’s bicarbonate level. For a single monthly serum bicarbonate measurement falling within the low (<22 mEq/L),normal (22–26 mEq/L), and high (>26 mEq/L) categories defined by clinical cutpoints, the percentage of measurements in the following monththat remain in the same category or change category are shown. Percentages may not sum to exactly 100 % due to rounding

Low Variability Medium Variability High Variability


um B



te (m



Time (days)

Fig. 2 Sample plots demonstrating levels of variability. Representative graphs of serum bicarbonate over time are shown for 3 patients in each ofthe 3 variability categories. Low, medium, and high variability were defined based on tertiles of the mean value of VV (Variability Value) for eachpatient during follow-up: Low (mean VV ≤2.18 mEq/L), Medium (mean VV = 2.19 to 2.75 mEq/L), and High (mean VV ≥2.76 mEq/L)

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circ*mstances, at least one-third of monthly or quarterlymean bicarbonate levels will change category with thenext measurement. By comparison, consecutive monthlymeasurements of serum albumin, which is highly predict-ive of outcomes in ESRD patients [12] and is used to diag-nose protein-energy wasting [13], were much more highlycorrelated.This has clear implications for any intervention aimed

at changing a hemodialysis patient’s metabolic acid-basestatus. First, the decision to intervene to raise or lowerthe serum bicarbonate should not be based on a singlebicarbonate value, and even a 3-month mean may beinsufficient. Second, if relying on monthly laboratoryreports to determine the outcome, at least three mea-surements are required to reliably determine an effect.Thus, individualization of the dialysis prescription is acomplex endeavor, and was not associated with im-proved mortality in a recent analysis of an internationalcohort [14]. Knowledge of a patient’s prior variabilitymay inform the decision to intervene.In our cohort, serum bicarbonate was inversely associ-

ated with several nutritional parameters. This is consist-ent with previous reports in HD patients which indicatethat serum bicarbonate is partly determined by dietaryintake and is a marker for nutritional status in ESRD pa-tients [1, 2, 15–17]. Thus, one would expect that thevariability in monthly serum bicarbonate measureswould be related to patient nutrition. Our data point tonon-linear associations of several nutritional parameterswith bicarbonate variability, suggesting that patients atboth ends of the nutritional spectrum exhibit the greatest

variability. Although we also hypothesized that dialysis ad-equacy and interdialytic weight gain would be importantdeterminants of bicarbonate variability, our findings didnot support this. The lack of an association with Kt/Vmay be due to confounding by body size, which wouldalso determine the volume of distribution of bicarbonate.Similarly, residual confounding related to nutritional fac-tors and medication compliance may explain the lack ofan association with interdialytic weight gain. Alternatively,the use of ultrafiltration volume as a surrogate for IDWGmay have introduced imprecision into the measure andlimited our ability to detect an association.A number of previous studies have reported lower

serum bicarbonate values with sevelamer hydrochlorideuse [18–21]. In our cohort, patients taking >6 pills perday of sevelamer hydrochloride had lower bicarbonatelevels over time compared with no binder use, and therewas a trend toward higher bicarbonate levels in patientstaking binders containing base precursors. Binder use,regardless of type, was associated with lower variabilityover time. We hypothesize that binder use reduced bi-carbonate variability by increasing the fraction of dietaryacid that did not change from month to month.We also noted an association of access type with

monthly bicarbonate variability. The results of the time-stratified models suggest that use of an access other thanan AVF is associated with greater variability, and thatafter 12 months, catheter use may be associated with thegreatest variability. Access-related issues that affect dia-lysis adequacy and could also lead to missed treatmentsand hospitalizations are the most likely explanation for

If the mean serum bicarbonate over the last 3 months is…



Low (<22)

Normal (22-26)

High (>26)

In the next 3 months it will… P















Go toNormal

Go toHigh












Go toLow


Go toHigh











Go toLow

Go toNormal


Fig. 4 Predicting the next 3-month mean serum bicarbonate level. For each mean serum bicarbonate calculated over a 3-month period andfalling within the low (<22 mEq/L), normal (22–26 mEq/L), and high (>26 mEq/L) categories defined by clinical cutpoints, the percentage of meanvalues in the following 3-month period that remain in the same category or change category are shown. Percentages may not sum to exactly100 % due to rounding

Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 Page 8 of 11

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Table 4 Multivariable-adjusted associations of clinical and laboratory characteristics with serum bicarbonate variability over time

Overall ≤12 months >12 months

Coefficient (95 % CI) p Coefficient (95 % CI) p Coefficient (95 % CI) p

Age (per 10 years) −0.03 (−0.04 to −0.01) 0.009 −0.03 (−0.05 to 0.00) 0.03 0.00 (−0.03 to 0.03) 0.9

Male −0.04 (−0.09 to 0.02) 0.19 −0.09 (−0.16 to −0.01) 0.02 0.02 (−0.05 to 0.09) 0.65


White −0.03 (−0.11 to 0.06) 0.53 −0.03 (−0.13 to 0.08) 0.64 −0.07 (−0.17 to 0.04) 0.22

Hispanic/Other −0.03 (−0.09 to 0.03) 0.31 −0.04 (−0.11 to 0.03) 0.24 0.00 (−0.07 to 0.08) 0.9


Overweight 0.01 (−0.05 to 0.07) 0.78 0.02 (−0.06 to 0.09) 0.65 0.02 (−0.05 to 0.10) 0.56

Obese −0.02 (−0.09 to 0.04) 0.52 −0.01 (−0.09 to 0.07) 0.83 −0.01 (−0.10 to 0.07) 0.77

Dialysis access

AVG 0.06 (0.00 to 0.11) 0.04 0.01 (−0.06 to 0.09) 0.75 0.07 (0.00 to 0.14) 0.04

Tunneled catheter 0.04 (−0.01 to 0.09) 0.15 0.00 (−0.07 to 0.07) 0.9 0.19 (0.09 to 0.28) <0.001

Etiology of ESRD

Diabetes −0.03 (−0.09 to 0.04) 0.41 −0.04 (−0.12 to 0.04) 0.33 0.03 (−0.06 to 0.11) 0.54

Other/Unknown −0.06 (−0.14 to 0.01) 0.11 −0.08 (−0.18 to 0.01) 0.09 0.00 (−0.09 to 0.10) 0.9

Cardiovascular Disease 0.05 (−0.01 to 0.11) 0.13 0.06 (−0.02 to 0.13) 0.13 0.04 (−0.04 to 0.11) 0.32

Phosphate binder

>6 pills/day acid precursor −0.03 (−0.11 to 0.05) 0.50 0.05 (−0.07 to 0.17) 0.39 −0.09 (−0.21 to 0.04) 0.19

>3–6 pills/day acid precursor −0.05 (−0.12 to 0.03) 0.21 0.04 (−0.07 to 0.14) 0.50 −0.12 (−0.25 to 0.01) 0.06

≤3 pills/day acid precursor −0.09 (−0.16 to −0.02) 0.01 −0.06 (−0.15 to 0.02) 0.16 −0.12 (−0.24 to 0.01) 0.07

≤3 pills/day base precursor −0.04 (−0.11 to 0.02) 0.21 −0.02 (−0.10 to 0.06) 0.60 −0.06 (−0.18 to 0.06) 0.31

>3–6 pills/day base precursor −0.07 (−0.14 to 0.00) 0.07 0.00 (−0.10 to 0.09) 0.95 −0.14 (−0.26 to −0.01) 0.03

>6 pills/day base precursor −0.08 (−0.15 to 0.00) 0.04 −0.06 (−0.16 to 0.05) 0.30 −0.11 (−0.23 to 0.01) 0.07

Epoetin alpha dose (Units)

≤5000 0.05 (0.02 to 0.09) 0.005 −0.02 (−0.07 to 0.04) 0.57 0.10 (0.05 to 0.15) <0.001

>5000 – ≤10,000 0.03 (−0.02 to 0.07) 0.23 0.01 (−0.05 to 0.07) 0.81 0.03 (−0.04 to 0.09) 0.44

≥10,000 0.06 (0.00 to 0.12) 0.04 −0.02 (−0.10 to 0.06) 0.65 0.16 (0.07 to 0.25) <0.001

Serum bicarbonate (mEq/L)

<22 0.12 (0.09 to 0.15) <0.001 0.17 (0.13 to 0.22) <0.001 0.08 (0.03 to 0.12) 0.001

>26 0.24 (0.18 to 0.29) <0.001 0.23 (0.16 to 0.31) <0.001 0.25 (0.18 to 0.32) <0.001

Serum albumin (g/dL) 0.03 (−0.02 to 0.09) 0.25 0.07 (0.00 to 0.15) 0.04 −0.04 (−0.13 to 0.04) 0.32

nPCR (g/kg/day) −0.42 (−0.73 to −0.10) 0.009 −0.23 (−0.80 to 0.33) 0.42 −0.46 (−0.84 to −0.07) 0.02

nPCR2 ((g/kg/day)2) 0.19 (0.04 to 0.34) 0.01 0.09 (−0.20 to 0.37) 0.55 0.21 (0.04 to 0.38) 0.02

spKt/V 0.04 (−0.02 to 0.10) 0.18 0.04 (−0.04 to 0.11) 0.35 0.04 (−0.04 to 0.12) 0.34

K+ (mEq/L) −0.18 (−0.36 to 0.00) 0.05 −0.10 (−0.36 to 0.16) 0.47 −0.23 (−0.48 to 0.02) 0.07

K+2 ((mEq/L)2) 0.02 (0.00 to 0.04) 0.05 0.01 (−0.02 to 0.03) 0.49 0.02 (0.00 to 0.05) 0.05

Hemoglobin (g/dL) −0.02 (−0.03 to −0.01) 0.002 −0.04 (−0.05 to −0.02) <0.001 0.00 (−0.02 to 0.02) 0.9

Calcium (mg/dL) −0.34 (−0.57 to −0.12) 0.003 −0.48 (−0.74 to −0.22) <0.001 −0.09 (−0.55 to 0.38) 0.71

Calcium2 ((mg/dL)2) 0.02 (0.01 to 0.03) 0.002 0.03 (0.01 to 0.04) <0.001 0.01 (−0.02 to 0.03) 0.65

Phosphorus (mg/dL) 0.01 (0.00 to 0.02) 0.09 0.00 (−0.02 to 0.01) 0.64 0.03 (0.01 to 0.04) <0.001

Serum creatinine (mg/dL) 0.01 (0.00 to 0.02) 0.03 0.01 (0.00 to 0.02) 0.19 0.01 (0.00 to 0.02) 0.11

WBC (103/mm3) 0.01 (0.00 to 0.01) 0.17 0.01 (0.00 to 0.02) 0.13 0.00 (−0.01 to 0.01) 0.79

Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 Page 9 of 11

Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (10)

these findings. Access type, especially catheter use, couldalso be a marker for patients with poorer or more vari-able nutritional status.We cannot account for the amount of variability due

to sample handling and delays in measurement [22, 23].However, this is unlikely to account for all the variabilitythat we observed. Values measured at a central labora-tory may be falsely low for a variety of reasons [24], al-though it has been suggested that this is a rare event[25]. Also, if falsely low values occurred frequently, wemight expect to see the greatest variability among lowserum bicarbonate measurements, but in our cohorthigh values were associated with the highest variabilityin multivariable analyses and were the least likely to beconfirmed on a subsequent measurement. Furthermore,the independent associations of several clinical and la-boratory values with bicarbonate variability suggest thatpatient-level factors contribute as well. Simultaneousmeasurement in a local laboratory would neverthelesshave provided a useful comparison. Regardless, our find-ings remain clinically relevant to the day-to-day practiceof managing patients’ dialysis prescriptions as providersrely on the monthly laboratory reports as the only datato guide their clinical decision-making.Several other limitations should be noted. Data were

not available for residual renal function, which could ex-plain some of the decline in variability over time. Phos-phate binder prescriptions were included in our modelsbut without information on medication adherence. Wecould not account for any effect of dialysis shift in ouranalyses, nor did we have information on treatment ad-herence. Few data were available regarding respiratoryfunction, but as there would be little or no metaboliccompensation, the effect on serum bicarbonate would beminor. Lastly, the dietary patterns of our patients maynot generally reflect other geographical regions andcould limit the generalizability of our findings.

A number of additional questions remain unanswered.The magnitude of variability should be verified in largercohorts, along with further examination of the effect ofearly and late dialysis vintage on variability. Future studiesshould also use local lab measurements to determine howmuch variability is accounted for by measurement error. Itwill be important to determine whether bicarbonate vari-ability changes around the time of a hospitalization, andwhether variability is predictive of outcomes. Finally, amore detailed understanding of the role of organic aniongeneration and other physiologic factors in modulating bi-carbonate variability is needed [8].

ConclusionsThe pre-dialysis serum bicarbonate values on monthly la-boratory reports in hemodialysis patients are highly vari-able. Further study is needed before they can be relied onas the basis for clinical intervention, especially as this re-lates to correcting high values.

Additional file

Additional file 1: Table S1. Baseline characteristics by quartiles ofbaseline serum bicarbonate. Table S2. Transition matrix showing thenumber of serum bicarbonate measurements in a clinical category in agiven month and in the subsequent month. Figure S1. Predicting nextmonth’s serum bicarbonate level, within tertiles of 90-day mean serumbicarbonate. For a single monthly serum bicarbonate measurement fallingwithin the low (<22 mEq/L), normal (22–26 mEq/L), and high (>26 mEq/L)categories defined by clinical cutpoints, the percentage of measurements inthe following month that remain in the same category or change categoryare shown within tertiles of the mean serum bicarbonate during the first90 days after admission to the dialysis unit: ≤22 mEq/L (n = 62), 22.25 –24 mEq/L (n = 65), ≥24.25 mEq/L (n = 54). Percentages may not sum toexactly 100 % due to rounding. Figure S2. Predicting next month’s serumbicarbonate level, within tertiles of variability value. For a single monthlyserum bicarbonate measurement falling within the low (<22 mEq/L),normal (22–26 mEq/L), and high (>26 mEq/L) categories defined by clinicalcutpoints, the percentage of measurements in the following month thatremain in the same category or change category are shown within tertilesof the mean value of VV (Variability Value) for each patient during follow-up:

Table 4 Multivariable-adjusted associations of clinical and laboratory characteristics with serum bicarbonate variability over time(Continued)

IDW gain (kg)

>1–3 0.01 (−0.05 to 0.07) 0.8 −0.03 (−0.12 to 0.05) 0.41 0.04 (−0.05 to 0.12) 0.38

>3–7 0.02 (−0.04 to 0.09) 0.48 −0.03 (−0.12 to 0.06) 0.55 0.07 (−0.02 to 0.15) 0.15

Time (months)

>3–6 −0.05 (−0.11 to 0.00) 0.04 −0.05 (−0.11 to 0.00) 0.06 ….

>6–12 −0.09 (−0.14 to −0.04) <0.001 −0.10 (−0.15 to −0.04) 0.001 ….

>12–24 −0.12 (−0.18 to −0.07) <0.001 …. ref

>24 −0.14 (−0.20 to −0.07) <0.001 …. 0.00 (−0.04 to 0.04) 0.88

Abbreviations: CI confidence interval; BMI body-mass index; AVG arteriovenous graft; ESRD end-stage renal disease; nPCR normalized protein catabolic rate; spKt/Vsingle-pool Kt/V; WBC white blood cells; IDW interdialytic weight gainModels included all variables listed in the Table. Reference categories are female for sex; Black for race/ethnicity; normal/underweight for BMI; arteriovenousfistula (AVF) for dialysis access; hypertension for etiology of ESRD; no binder use for phosphate binder; no epoetin alpha use for epoetin alpha dose;22–26 mEq/L for serum bicarbonate; 0–1 kg for interdialytic weight gain; ≤3 months for time in the Overall and ≤12 months models, and >12–24 months inthe >12 months model. Bold values indicate p<0.05.

Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 Page 10 of 11

Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (11)

Low (mean VV ≤2.18 mEq/L), Medium (mean VV = 2.19 to 2.75 mEq/L), andHigh (mean VV ≥2.76 mEq/L). Percentages may not sum to exactly 100 %due to rounding. Table S3. Multivariable-adjusted associations of clinicaland laboratory characteristics with serum bicarbonate variability over timewithin and after the first 6 months. (DOCX 67 kb)

AbbreviationsAVF: Arteriovenous fistula; AVG: Arteriovenous graft; ESRD: End-stage renaldisease; HD: Hemodialysis; ICC: Intraclass correlation coefficient;IDWG: Interdialytic weight gain; nPCR: Normalized protein catabolic rate;spKt/V: Single pool Kt/V; VV: Variability value; WBC: White blood cell.

Competing interestsVWF is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of Fresenius Medical CareNorth America (FMCNA). None of the other authors has any financialconflicts to disclose. The study protocol was approved by FMCNA as this wasa prerequisite for chart and data review. FMCNA had no role in the studydesign, data collection, statistical analysis, interpretation of the data,manuscript preparation, or approval of the final manuscript, or in thedecision to submit the report for publication.

Authors’ contributionsResearch idea and study design: RP, WP, MAN, DS, VWF, MKA; dataacquisition: RP, WP; data analysis/interpretation: RP, WP, CBH, MKA;supervision or mentorship: VWF, MKA. Each author contributed importantintellectual content during manuscript drafting or revision. All authors readand approved the final manuscript.

AcknowledgmentsThis research was supported by an American Society of Nephrology Carl W.Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant and by K23 DK099438 from the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of theauthors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.Portions of this work were presented at the American Society of NephrologyKidney Week in Philadelphia, PA, Nov 11 – 16, 2014.

Author details1Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine,Philadelphia, PA, USA. 2Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine,Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA. 3Department ofEpidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300Morris Park Avenue, Ullmann 615, Bronx, NY 10461, USA. 4The Saul R. KoreyDepartment of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY,USA. 5Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Medstar GeorgetownUniversity, Washington, DC, USA. 6Department of Medicine, Interfaith MedicalCenter, Brooklyn, NY, USA.

Received: 1 October 2015 Accepted: 6 December 2015

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Association of predialysis serum bicarbonate levels with risk of mortality andhospitalization in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study(DOPPS). Am J Kidney Dis. 2004;44(4):661–71.

2. Wu DY, Shinaberger CS, Regidor DL, McAllister CJ, Kopple JD, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Association between serum bicarbonate and death inhemodialysis patients: is it better to be acidotic or alkalotic? Clin J Am SocNephrol. 2006;1(1):70–8.

3. Kraut JA, Nagami GT. The use and interpretation of serum bicarbonateconcentration in dialysis patients. Semin Dial. 2014;27(6):577–9.

4. K/DOQI clinical practice guidelines for chronic kidney disease: evaluation,classification, and stratification. Am J Kidney Dis 2002, 39(2 Suppl 1):S1-266.

5. Heineken FG, Brady-Smith M, Haynie J, Van Stone JC. Prescribing dialysatebicarbonate concentrations for hemodialysis patients. Int J Artif Organs.1988;11(1):45–50.

6. Saikumar JH, Kovesdy CP. Bicarbonate therapy in end-stage renal disease:current practice trends and implications. Semin Dial. 2015;28(4):370–6.

7. Chen JL, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Is an increased serum bicarbonate concentrationduring hemodialysis associated with an increased risk of death? Semin Dial.2014;27(3):259–62.

8. Gennari FJ. Acid-base balance in dialysis patients. Semin Dial. 2000;13(4):235–9.9. Hood VL, Tannen RL. Protection of acid-base balance by pH regulation of

acid production. N Engl J Med. 1998;339(12):819–26.10. Vashistha T, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Molnar MZ, Torlen K, Mehrotra R. Dialysis

modality and correction of uremic metabolic acidosis: relationship with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013;8(2):254–64.

11. Lisawat P, Gennari FJ. Approach to the hemodialysis patient with an abnormalserum bicarbonate concentration. Am J Kidney Dis. 2014;64(1):151–5.

12. Don BR, Kaysen G. Serum albumin: relationship to inflammation andnutrition. Semin Dial. 2004;17(6):432–7.

13. Fouque D, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Kopple J, Cano N, Chauveau P, Cuppari L, et al.A proposed nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for protein-energywasting in acute and chronic kidney disease. Kidney Int. 2008;73(4):391–8.

14. Tentori F, Karaboyas A, Robinson BM, Morgenstern H, Zhang J, Sen A, et al.Association of dialysate bicarbonate concentration with mortality in theDialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS). Am J Kidney Dis.2013;62(4):738–46.

15. Chauveau P, Fouque D, Combe C, Laville M, Canaud B, Azar R, et al. Acidosisand nutritional status in hemodialyzed patients. French Study Group forNutrition in Dialysis. Semin Dial. 2000;13(4):241–6.

16. Kaysen GA, Greene T, Daugirdas JT, Kimmel PL, Schulman GW, Toto RD, etal. Longitudinal and cross-sectional effects of C-reactive protein, equilibratednormalized protein catabolic rate, and serum bicarbonateon creatinine and albumin levels in dialysis patients. Am J Kidney Dis.2003;42(6):1200–11.

17. Uribarri J, Levin NW, Delmez J, Depner TA, Ornt D, Owen W, et al.Association of acidosis and nutritional parameters in hemodialysis patients.Am J Kidney Dis. 1999;34(3):493–9.

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19. Filiopoulos V, Koutis I, Trompouki S, Hadjiyannakos D, Lazarou D,Vlassopoulos D. Lanthanum carbonate versus sevelamer hydrochloride:improvement of metabolic acidosis and hyperkalemia in hemodialysispatients. Ther Apher Dial. 2011;15(1):20–7.

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Patel et al. BMC Nephrology (2015) 16:214 Page 11 of 11

Variability in monthly serum bicarbonate measures …...Background Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis (HD) [1–3]. - [PDF Document] (2024)


What is the normal level for bicarbonate in final dialysis? ›

The normal level of serum bicarbonate is 22-29 mEq/L. Kidney experts recommend that patients not have their serum bicarbonate levels fall below 22 mEq/L.

What is the role of sodium bicarbonate in hemodialysis patients? ›

Sodium bicarbonate is the predominant buffer used in dialysis fluids and patients on maintenance dialysis are subjected to a load of sodium bicarbonate during the sessions, suffering a transient metabolic alkalosis of variable severity.

What are the bicarbonate levels for metabolic acidosis? ›

In metabolic acidosis, the distinguishing lab value is a decreased bicarbonate (normal range 21 to 28 mEq/L). The normal anion gap is 12. Therefore, values greater than 12 define an anion gap metabolic acidosis.

Why is bicarbonate low in renal failure? ›

As renal function declines, the kidneys progressively lose the capacity to synthesize ammonia and excrete hydrogen ions. Consequently, low bicarbonate levels are more common in patients with lower eGFR; approximately 19% of patients with CKD stages 4–5 have a serum bicarbonate <22 mmol/L.

How much bicarbonate for CKD patients? ›

A recent dose-ranging pilot trial (the BASE trial) suggested that higher dose (approximately 5 g/day) of bicarbonate was more effective than lower dose (approximately 3 g/day) of bicarbonate in increasing serum bicarbonate concentrations in patients with CKD 3 or 4; the higher dose provided an additional 1.3-mmol/L ...

What does bicarbonate mean in a blood test? ›

Bicarbonate belongs to a group of electrolytes, which help keep your body hydrated and make sure your blood has the right amount of acidity. Too much or too little bicarbonate can be a sign of a number of conditions, including diarrhea, liver failure, kidney disease, and anorexia.

What is the function of the bicarbonate in the kidneys? ›

Sodium bicarbonate is prescribed for people with kidney disease who develop metabolic acidosis, or a buildup of too much acid in the body. The medication can help reduce acid levels in the body, restore pH balance, and potentially slow the progression of CKD.

What is the bicarbonate in dialysis fluid? ›

Dialysis fluid is cyclically infused into the peritoneal cavity, allowed to dwell, drained and then re-infused via a peritoneal catheter. Peritoneal dialysis fluids typically contain physiological concentrations of sodium, chloride, magnesium, calcium and a base such as lactate, acetate or bicarbonate.

What is the main purpose of sodium bicarbonate? ›

Sodium bicarbonate , also known as baking soda, is used to relieve heartburn, sour stomach, or acid indigestion by neutralizing excess stomach acid. When used for this purpose, it is said to belong to the group of medicines called antacids. It may be used to treat the symptoms of stomach or duodenal ulcers.

What happens if your bicarbonate levels are high? ›

A high level of bicarbonate in your blood can be from metabolic alkalosis, a condition that causes a pH increase in tissue. Metabolic alkalosis can happen from a loss of acid from your body, such as through vomiting and dehydration.

How do you fix metabolic acidosis? ›

The main approach to treating metabolic acidosis is through your diet. Increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins you eat each day helps lower the amount of acid in your body. This is because fruits and vegetables produce alkali (also known as base, the opposite of acid).

What are the symptoms of high bicarbonate? ›

  • Confusion (can progress to stupor or coma)
  • Hand tremor.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Nausea, vomiting.
  • Numbness or tingling in the face, hands, or feet.
  • Prolonged muscle spasms (tetany)
Nov 19, 2023

Can dehydration cause metabolic acidosis? ›

Prolonged dehydration with delayed intervention can lead to metabolic acidosis, cardiac arrhythmias, and death.

What is the diet for metabolic acidosis? ›

For people with metabolic acidosis, making changes in what they eat may help. For example, eating plant-based protein instead of animal-based protein may keep acid levels lower. Always talk to your doctor before you make any changes to your diet.

Is metabolic acidosis fatal? ›

Most symptoms are caused by the underlying disease or condition that is causing the metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis itself most often causes rapid breathing. Acting confused or very tired may also occur. Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to shock or death.

What is the bicarbonate level in dialysate? ›

A DBIC concentration of 31–32 mmol/L may benefit patient outcomes. This study provides an evidence-based medical basis for optimal dialysis prescription in the future.

What is acid bicarb ratio in dialysis? ›

mixing ratio 1+34 and 1+44.

What is renal threshold for bicarbonate? ›

urine formation

…often referred to as the bicarbonate threshold. When the plasma bicarbonate rises above 27 millimoles per litre, bicarbonate appears in the urine in increasing amounts.

What is a dangerously low bicarbonate level? ›

It is recommended to keep blood bicarbonate at levels above 22 mEq/L. The normal range is 22–29 mEq/L. People with metabolic acidosis have a blood bicarbonate level between 12–22 mEq/L, while people with severe metabolic acidosis fall below 12 mEq/L.

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Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.