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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Report of Two Cases: Unlearning Lactic Acidosis


Introduction: The term “lactic acidosis” reinforces the misconception that lactate contributes to acidemia. Although it is common to discover an anion gap acidosis with a concomitant elevated lactate concentration, the two are not mutually dependent.

Case Report: Here we describe two patients exhibiting high lactate concentrations in the setting of metabolic alkalemia.

Conclusion: Lactate is not necessarily the direct cause of acid-base disturbances, and there is no fixed relationship between lactate and the anion gap or between lactate and pH. The term “metabolic acidosis with hyperlactatemia” is more specific than “lactic acidosis” and thus more appropriate.

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