Postgrad Med J. 2020 Nov 27:postgradmedj-2020-138513. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-138513. Online ahead of print.
The genesis of ketone bodies by organisms is a protective mechanism. This metabolic process helps organisms to survive acute metabolic derangements in times of nutrient deficiency. When prolonged, ketogenesis leads to ketoacidosis, which is a potentially life-threatening metabolic disorder due to the accumulation of keto-acids in the body. The most common cause is diabetic ketoacidosis, though starvation ketoacidosis and alcoholic ketoacidosis are not uncommon. The presentation of all ketoacidotic states is similar-being generally unwell, abdominal pain, rapid and shallow breathing, vomiting and dehydration. Non-diabetic ketoacidotic states are very commonly overlooked due to relative unawareness among the clinicians, leading to misdiagnosis and thereby inappropriate management culminating in added mortality and morbidity. We describe here six cases of alcoholic and starvation ketoacidosis, review the literature currently available and discuss the common pitfalls in managing such cases.