Author(s): Wrenn K
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Abstract The anion gap (AG) is a helpful, yet underused, clinical tool. Not only does the presence of a high AG suggest a certain differential, but knowledge of the relationship between the rise in AG (delta AG) and the fall in bicarbonate (delta HCO3) is important in understanding mixed acid-based disorders. Simple arithmetic converts this relationship into a numerical value, the delta gap (delta gap). The delta gap = delta AG - delta HCO3. If the delta gap is significantly positive (greater than +6), a metabolic alkalosis is usually present because the rise in AG is more than the fall in HCO3. Conversely, if the delta gap is significantly negative (less than -6), then a hyperchloremic acidosis is usually present because the rise in AG is less than the fall in HCO3. Familarity with the relationship between the changes in AG and HCO3 can be useful in unmasking occult metabolic disorders.
This article was published in Ann Emerg Med
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access