Electrolytes

Anion Gap

A healthy result should fall into the range 10 - 19 mEq/L.

Our body chemistry consists of a never-ending cascade of molecules reacting with one another to make more complex molecules. A few are commonly familiar: sodium, potassium, and chloride. These can be further classified by their electrical charge. Sodium and potassium are positively charged and are referred to as cations; chloride is negatively charged and is referred to as an anion. An anion gap refers to the measured difference between cations and anions in serum, plasma, or urine.  An usual anion gap measurement may indicate a number of conditions depending on whether the reading is high or low, the most common being a high anion gap reading as an indication of acidosis. Symptoms of acidosis include:

            -Fatigue

            -Confusion

            -Shortness of breath

            -Headache

There are a number of cations and anions in the body; therefore, it is most useful to narrow an anion gap blood test to a few specific molecules or a single source of fluid to make the readings more concise. 

Anion gap (AG) is a calculated value commonly used in clinical practice. It approximates the difference between the concentration of unmeasured anions (UA) and unmeasured cations (UC) in serum. At present, the reference range of anion gap has been lowered from 8-16 to 3-11 mmol/l because of the changes in technique for measuring electrolyte. However, clinicians and textbooks still refer and use the old reference value of 8-16 mmol/l. This may lead to misinterpretation of the value of anion gap. [R]

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