Published:December 29, 2022DOI:



      Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is commonly complicated by mixed acid-base disorders. Therefore, patients with DKA can present with pH > 7.3 or bicarbonate > 18 mmol/L, which falls outside the values defined by the current traditional DKA criteria (pH ≤ 7.3 or bicarbonate ≤ 18 mmol/L).


      We aimed to study the spectrum of acid-base clinical presentations of DKA and the prevalence of diabetic ketoalkalosis.


      This study included all adult patients at a single institution admitted in 2018–2020 with diabetes, positive beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and increased anion gap ≥ 16 mmol/L. Mixed acid-base disorders were analyzed to determine the spectrum of presentation of DKA.


      There were 259 encounters identified under the inclusion criteria. Acid-base analysis was available in 227 cases. Traditional acidemic DKA (pH ≤ 7.3), DKA with mild acidemia (7.3 < pH ≤ 7.4), and diabetic ketoalkalosis (pH > 7.4) account for 48.9% (111/227), 27.8% (63/227), and 23.3% (53/227) of cases, respectively. Of the 53 cases with diabetic ketoalkalosis, increased anion gap metabolic acidosis was present in all, and concurrent metabolic alkalosis, respiratory alkalosis, and respiratory acidosis were present in 47.2% (25/53), 81.1% (43/53), and 11.3% (6/53) encounters, respectively. In addition, 34.0% (18/53) of those with diabetic ketoalkalosis were found to have severe ketoacidosis, defined by beta-hydroxybutyric acid ≥ 3 mmol/L.


      DKA can present as traditional acidemic DKA, DKA with mild acidemia, and diabetic ketoalkalosis. Diabetic ketoalkalosis is a common yet easily overlooked alkalemic variant of DKA associated with mixed acid-base disorders, and a high proportion of these presentations have severe ketoacidosis and thus, require the same treatment as traditional DKA.


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