Metformin-Associated Lactic Acidosis in a Diabetic Patient with Normal Kidney Function and Occult Cirrhosis

Jad Chidiac, Rebecca Kassab, Mirella Iskandar, Sahar Koubar, Mabel Aoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Lactic acidosis is a well-known complication of metformin accumulation in diabetic patients with kidney failure. However, it is not usual to raise the diagnosis of metformin-associated lactic acidosis when patients have normal kidney function. The causes of metformin-induced high lactate include the accumulation of normal doses of metformin in chronic kidney disease, an overdose of this drug without kidney failure, or an increase in lactate production due to the inhibition of liver gluconeogenesis. Case Presentation. We report the case of a 61-year-old diabetic man who was brought to the emergency room in a comatose state. His family reported abdominal pain with diarrhea in the last two days. He was found to have severe lactic acidosis with normal serum creatinine. He was on a regular dose of metformin, and his family denied any other medical history or any alcohol abuse. He showed no signs of infection, his liver enzymes were slightly elevated, and he had severe anemia. His hemodynamics deteriorated quickly within hours, and an abdominal computed tomography scan revealed no abnormalities. He underwent a laparotomy that ruled out mesenteric ischemia and revealed an abnormal liver. The liver biopsy later confirmed the diagnosis of cirrhosis. Conclusions. We discuss here the probable causes of severe lactic acidosis and the role of metformin in exacerbating this acid-base disturbance in cirrhotic patients. Future research is needed to determine whether these patients might benefit from dialysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5506744
JournalCase Reports in Critical Care
StatePublished - 2022

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© 2022 Jad Chidiac et al.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Case Reports


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