Definition: the difference between the sum of the measured cations and anions in the plasma or serum calculated as follows: ([Na+ + [K+]) – ([Cl-] + [HCO3-]) = < 20 mmol/L. Elevated values may occur in diabetic or lactic acidosis and in various types of poisoning; normal or low values occur in bicarbonate-losing metabolic acidoses.
Synonym(s): cation-anion difference
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