Intravenous sodium bicarbonate therapy increases plasma bicarbonate, buffers excess hydrogen ion concentration, raises blood pH and reverses the clinical manifestations of acidosis.
Sodium bicarbonate in water dissociates to provide sodium (Na+) and bicarbonate (HCO3-) ions. Sodium (Na+) is the principal cation of extracellular fluid and plays a large part in the therapy of fluid and electrolyte disturbances. Bicarbonate (HCO3-) is a normal constituent of body fluids and the normal plasma level ranges from 24 to 31 mmol (mEq)/liter. Plasma concentration is regulated by the kidney through acidification of the urine when there is a deficit or by alkalinization of the urine when there is an excess. Bicarbonate anion is considered "labile" since at a proper concentration of hydrogen ion (H+) it may be converted to carbonic acid (H2CO3) and thence to its volatile form, carbon dioxide (CO2) excreted by the lung. Normally a ratio of 1:20 (carbonic acid: bicarbonate) is present in the extracellular fluid. In a healthy adult with normal kidney function, practically all the glomerular filtered bicarbonate ion is reabsorbed: less than 1% is excreted in the urine.