Point-of-care Test Identifies Diabetic Ketoacidosis at Triage

Rosanne Naunheim, Timothy J. Jang, Gerald Banet, Alec Richmond, Janet McGill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a common, life-threatening complication of diabetes. The diagnosis of DKA relies on signs and symptoms, plus laboratory findings of blood glucose (BG) of >250 mg/dL, an anion gap (AG) of ≥15 mmol/L, and carbon dioxide (CO2) of ≤18 mmol/L when other causes of acidosis are excluded. Objectives: To compare the results of a point-of-care test for the ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate (β-OHB) with standard measures for accuracy in predicting DKA. Methods: After providing informed consent, 160 patients who presented with BG of >250 mg/dL underwent testing for β-OHB with the Precision Xtra meter (Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, IL) at triage in a large urban hospital emergency department. The diagnosis of DKA was made by clinicians by using standard clinical criteria without knowledge of the β-OHB test. Results: A diagnosis of DKA was made in 57 of 160 subjects. The β-OHB values correlated strongly with AG (r = 0.66, p < 0.001) and with CO2 (r = -0.69, p < 0.001), as well as with glucose (r = 0.31, p < 0.001). Cross-classification of DKA vs. β-OHB yielded sensitivity of 98% (95% CI = 91% to 100%), specificity of 85% (95% CI = 78% to 91%), with a positive likelihood ratio of 6.7 (95% CI = 4.22 to 10.78), and negative likelihood ratio of 0.021 (95% CI = 0.003 to 0.144) at the manufacturer-suggested β-OHB level of 1.5. Conclusions: The point-of-care test for β-OHB was as sensitive as more established indicators of DKA. It is more useful than glucose alone for the diagnosis of DKA and offers immediate diagnosis of patients at triage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-685
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • anion gap
  • beta-hydroxybutyrate
  • diabetes


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