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Lactate: physiology and clinical utility


Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. Sarah E. Allen, Angell Animal Medical Center, 350 South Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.


Objective: To review the physiology of lactate production and metabolism, the causes of lactic acidosis, and the current applications of lactate monitoring in humans and animals.

Data sources: Human and veterinary studies.

Summary: Lactate production is the result of anaerobic metabolism. Tissue hypoxia due to hypoperfusion is the most common cause of lactic acidosis. Studies in critically ill humans have shown that serial lactate monitoring can be used to assess the severity of illness and response to therapy. Several veterinary studies have also shown lactate as a useful tool to assess severity of illness.

Conclusions: Lactate measurement in critically ill veterinary patients is practical and can provide information to assess severity of illness. Further veterinary studies are needed to establish the value of serial lactate measurements for prognostic and therapeutic purposes. Information regarding lactate measurement in cats is limited, and further studies are warranted.

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