Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Alcoholic ketoacidosis
  1. L C McGuire1,
  2. A M Cruickshank2,
  3. P T Munro3
  1. 1Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, UK
  2. 2Department of Biochemistry, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L C McGuire
 Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Accident and Emergency Department, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, UK; larry.mcguire{at}


Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a common reason for investigation and admission of alcohol dependent patients in UK emergency departments. Although well described in international emergency medicine literature, UK emergency physicians rarely make the diagnosis of AKA. There is increasing evidence that rather than being benign and self limiting, AKA may be a significant cause of mortality in patients with alcohol dependence. This literature review discusses the history, characterisation, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of AKA.

  • AcAc, acetoacetate
  • AKA, alcoholic ketoacidosis
  • BOHB, beta-hydroxybutyrate
  • ED, emergency department
  • emergency department
  • alcoholic ketoacidosis
  • alcohol

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: there are no competing interests

Linked Articles

  • Primary Survey
    Colville Laird