Acid-Base and Potassium Disorders in Liver Disease

Shubhada N. Ahya*, Maria José Soler, Josh Levitsky, Daniel Batlle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Acid-base and potassium disorders occur frequently in the setting of liver disease. As the liver's metabolic function worsens, particularly in the setting of renal dysfunction, hemodynamic compromise, and hepatic encephalopathy, acid-base disorders ensue. The most common acid-base disorder is respiratory alkalosis. Metabolic acidosis alone or in combination with respiratory alkalosis also is common. Acid-base disorders in patients with liver disease are complex. The urine anion gap may help to distinguish between chronic respiratory alkalosis and hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis when a blood gas is not available. A negative urine anion gap helps to rule out chronic respiratory alkalosis. In this disorder a positive urine anion gap is expected owing to suppressed urinary acidification. Distal renal tubular acidosis occurs in autoimmune liver disease such as primary biliary cirrhosis, but often is a functional defect from impaired distal sodium delivery. Potassium disorders are often the result of the therapies used to treat advanced liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-470
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in nephrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • acid-base
  • hyperkalemia
  • kidney
  • liver disease
  • liver failure
  • metabolic acidosis
  • respiratory alkalosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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