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Medical Term:

Henderson-Hasselbalch equation

Pronunciation: hen'der-son hahs'el-bawlk

Definition: a formula relating the pH value of a solution to the pKa value of the acid in the solution and the ratio of the acid and the conjugate base concentrations: pH = pKa + log([A-]/[HA]), where [A-] is the concentration of the conjugate base and [HA] is the concentration of the protonated acid. For the bicarbonate buffer system in blood, pH = pK' + log([HCO3-]/[CO2]). The value of pK' for blood plasma is 6.10 and includes the first dissociation constant of H2CO3, the relation between [H2CO3] and [CO2], and other corrections. The partial pressure of CO2 multiplied by its solubility in plasma at 38°C (0.0301 mM/mm Hg) is commonly substituted for [CO2]; when the plasma bicarbonate concentration is 24 mEq/L and the PCO2 is 40 mm Hg, the pH value is 6.10 + log(24/0.0301 × 40) = 7.40.

[Lawrence J. Henderson, Karl Hasselbalch]

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