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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 134780, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Severe Ketoacidosis (pH ≤ 6.9) in Type 2 Diabetes: More Frequent and Less Ominous Than Previously Thought

1Division of Endocrinology, Internal Medicine Department, University Hospital “Dr. José E. González”, Autonomous University of Nuevo León, 64460 Monterrey, NL, Mexico
2Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
3Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital “Dr. José E. González”, Autonomous University of Nuevo León, 64460 Monterrey, NL, Mexico
4Latino Diabetes Initiative, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 10 February 2015; Accepted 11 June 2015

Academic Editor: Gianluca Bardini

Copyright © 2015 René Rodríguez-Gutiérrez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening acute metabolic complication of uncontrolled diabetes. Severe cases of DKA (pH ≤ 7.00, bicarbonate level ≤ 10.0, anion gap > 12, positive ketones, and altered mental status) are commonly encountered in patients with type 1 diabetes and are thought to carry an ominous prognosis. There is not enough information on the clinical course of severely acidotic type 2 diabetes (pH ≤ 6.9) patients with DKA, possibly because this condition is rarely seen in developed countries. In this series, we present 18 patients with type 2 diabetes, DKA, and a pH ≤ 6.9 that presented to a tertiary university hospital over the past 11 years. The objective was to describe their clinical characteristics, the triggering cause, and emphasis on treatment, evolution, and outcomes. The majority of the patients were female (61%). Mean age was 40.66 years (23–59). The patients had been first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes on average 5.27 ± 3.12 years before admission. Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65) antibodies were negative in all patients. The origin of DKA could be attributed to two main causes: treatment omission in 8 (44.4%) patients and infections in 7 (38.8%) patients. The most common symptoms described were general malaise, dyspnea, altered mental status, and abdominal pain. Mean serum glucose on admission was 613.8 ± 114.5 mg/dL. Mean venous pH was 6.84 ± 0.03 with an anion gap of 30.3 ± 2.9 and a venous HCO3 level of 3.62 ± 1.35 mmol/L. All patients had acute renal failure on admission, with a mean serum creatinine of 1.57 ± 0.35 mg/dL compared to 0.55 ± 0.21 mg/dL at discharge. All patients received regular insulin infusion, aggressive fluid repletion, and 12 patients (66%) received bicarbonate infusion. Mean total insulin infusion dose was 181.7 ± 90.4 U (on average 0.14 ± 0.05 U/Kg/h). Mean time on infusion was 24.4 ± 12.6 hours. We recorded no mortality in this case series. Mean in-hospital stay was 5.0 ± 4.1 days. In conclusion, very severe DKA in type 2 diabetes is not uncommon in our population, shares many features with non-very-severe cases of DKA (bicarbonate therapy did not make a difference in mortality), and can be managed following standard published or institutional guidelines.