Strong ion difference in urine: New perspectives in acid-base assessment

Luciano Gattinoni, Eleonora Carlesso, Paolo Cadringher, Pietro Caironi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The plasmatic strong ion difference (SID) is the difference between positively and negatively charged strong ions. At pH 7.4, temperature 37°C and partial carbon dioxide tension 40 mmHg, the ideal value of SID is 42 mEq/l. The buffer base is the sum of negatively charged weak acids ([HCO3-], [A-], [H2 PO4-]) and its normal value is 42 mEq/l. According to the law of electroneutrality, the amount of positive and negative charges must be equal, and therefore the SID value is equal to the buffer base value. The easiest assessment of metabolic acidosis/ alkalosis relies on the base excess calculation: buffer baseactual - buffer baseideal = SIDactual - SIDideal. The SID approach allows one to appreciate the relationship between acid-base and electrolyte equilibrium from a unique perspective, and here we describe a comprehensive model of this equilibrium. The extracellular volume is characterized by a given SID, which is a function of baseline conditions, endogenous and exogenous input (endogenous production and infusion), and urinary output. Of note, volume modifications vary the concentration of charges in the solution. An expansion of extracellular volume leads to acidosis (SID decreases), whereas a contraction of extracellular volume leads to alkalosis (SID increases). A thorough understanding of acid-base equilibrium mandates recognition of the importance of urinary SID.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
JournalCritical Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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