History of Medical Understanding and Misunderstanding of Acid Base Balance
Dr. Christopher Geoffrey Alexander Aiken,
729 Frankley Road, New Plymouth 4371, New Zealand.
Phone: +64 6 753 2950, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To establish how controversies in understanding acid base balance arose, the literature on acid base balance was reviewed from 1909, when Henderson described how the neutral reaction of blood is determined by carbonic and organic acids being in equilibrium with an excess of mineral bases over mineral acids. From 1914 to 1930, Van Slyke and others established our acid base principles. They recognised that carbonic acid converts into bicarbonate all non-volatile mineral bases not bound by mineral acids and determined therefore that bicarbonate represents the alkaline reserve of the body and should be a physiological constant. They showed that standard bicarbonate is a good measure of acidosis caused by increased production or decreased elimination of organic acids. However, they recognised that bicarbonate improved low plasma bicarbonate but not high urine acid excretion in diabetic ketoacidosis, and that increasing pCO2 caused chloride to shift into cells raising plasma titratable alkali. Both indicate that minerals influence pH. In 1945 Darrow showed that hyperchloraemic metabolic acidosis in preterm infants fed milk with 5.7 mmol of chloride and 2.0 mmol of sodium per 100 kcal was caused by retention of chloride in excess of sodium. Similar findings were made but not recognised in later studies of metabolic acidosis in preterm infants. Shohl in 1921 and Kildeberg in 1978 presented the theory that carbonic and organic acids are neutralised by mineral base, where mineral base is the excess of mineral cations over anions and organic acid is the difference between mineral base, bicarbonate and protein anion. The degree of metabolic acidosis measured as base excess is determined by deviation in both mineral base and organic acid from normal.