The acid-base impact of free water removal from, and addition to, plasma

Steve C. Haskins, Katrina Hopper, Marlis L. Rezende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Water, compared with plasma at a pH of 7.4, is a weak acid. The addition of free water to a patient should have an acidifying effect (dilutional acidosis) and the removal of it, an alkalinizing effect (concentrational alkalosis). The specific effects of free water loss or gain in a relatively complex fluid such as plasma has, to the authors' knowledge, not been reported. This information would be useful in the interpretation of the effect of changes in free water in patients. Plasma samples from goats were either evaporated in a tonometer to 80% of baseline volume or hydrated by the addition of distilled water to 120% of baseline volume. The pH and partial pressure of carbon dioxide, sodium, potassium, ionized calcium, chloride, lactate, phosphorous, albumin, and total protein concentrations were measured. Actual base excess (ABE), standard bicarbonate, anion gap, strong ion difference, strong ion gap, unmeasured anions, and the effects of sodium, chloride, phosphate, and albumin changes on ABE were calculated. Most parameters changed 20% in proportion to the magnitude of dehydration or hydration. Bicarbonate concentration, however, increased only 11% in the evaporation trial and decreased only -2% in the dehydration trial. The evaporation trial was associated with a mild, but significant, metabolic alkalotic effect (ABE increased 3.2 mM/L), whereas the hydration trial was associated with a slight, insignificant metabolic acidotic effect (ABE decreased only 0.6 mM/L). The calculated free water ABE effect (change in sodium concentration) was offset by opposite changes in calculated chloride, lactate, phosphate, and albumin ABE effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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