Lactate in Veterinary Critical Care: Pathophysiology and Management


The measurement of blood lactate in people has proven to be a useful tool in the diagnosis, monitoring, and prognosis of a wide range of clinical syndromes. Its use in small animals is increasing, and several studies have been completed that demonstrate its potential role in critical care. This article summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the physiology and pathophysiology of lactate production and lactic acidosis; current indications and the utility of measurement in a critical care setting are described; novel applications in the evaluation of cavitary effusions are highlighted; and a guide to the therapy of lactic acidosis is presented.

The authors conclude that lactate measurement is a very useful diagnostic test, which may be performed at the bedside. It aids in the detection of hypoperfusion (the most common cause of lactic acidosis in veterinary species), and it has prognostic implications for type A lactic acidosis and its treatment. Lactate measurement may also prove useful in helping to detect or rule out the presence of a septic effusion in various cavitary effusions.

This article was written in English by Daniel S. Pang and Søren Boysen, and published in Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 2007;43:270-279.

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