March 27, 2014

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a common endocrine emergency encountered in the emergency department.  DKA associated mortality is relatively low in adults, but in children with type 1 diabetes, the elderly, and adults with concomitant illnesses have a mortality rate is > 5% [cite source="pubmed"]19564476[/cite].  Guidelines for the management of hyperglycemic crisis in adults provide recommendations for intravenous fluid administration, correction of electrolyte abnormalities, insulin and bicarbonate therapy.  While the recommendations made in the American Diabetes Association (ADA) consensus statement are intended to be evidence based, there are two recommendations which have less than optimal supporting evidence which results in controversy in the emergency department: 1. Use of regular insulin boluses of 0.1 units/kg and 2. patients with a pH < 6.9 should receive sodium bicarbonate therapy.  Today we will attempt to answer the question, is there any benefit to an initial insulin bolus in DKA?