What Is an Anion Gap?


Quick Answer

An anion gap refers to the difference between the concentration of positively charged ions, known as cations and negatively charged ions, known as anions, in a liquid. The anion gap is often measured as part of medical tests for a variety of conditions.

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Full Answer

The anion gap is often calculated from a patient's urine sample. The positive ions that are typically measured are potassium and sodium, although potassium is often ignored since it's usually much smaller than potassium. The anions measured in a typical test are chloride and bicarbonate. A high anion gap may demonstrate that a patient is in acidosis, a common state in diabetics. High anion gaps are far more common than low gaps.

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