118 Challenges of lactate interpretation with Tim and Declan

You are phoned and asked to review the venous blood gas from a woman who has just given birth in labour ward. She had a long and difficult labour and eventually required an instrumental delivery. The RMO tells you also that she was very difficult to take blood from and the tourniquet was on her arm for quite a long time. Her results show that she has a lactate of 2.5.

Does this result mean she has maternal bacterial sepsis? Does this mean she is in shock, not perfusing her organs properly and they are using anaerobic metabolism? Unfortunately it’s not that simple but these are common misconceptions that we might encounter when interpreting raised lactate levels.

What is lactate? How does the body handle it? What are the different conditions which can raise your lactate levels? If you want to know this and more listen in to our fascinating discussion this week.

Hi everyone,

This week I am joined by two new guests, Tim Marmion one of our talented junior registrars and Declan Sharp the new education fellow here at KEMH. This week Tim kindly agreed to give us a talk he recently wrote whilst working in ICU, on the challenges of lactate interpretation. I cornered him after the talk and he kindly agreed to share it with us on the podcast. Thanks Tim and Declan for a fascinating and educational topic!


How should we interpret lactate in labour? A reference study S.Dockree et al BJOG. 2022 Dec; 129(13): 2150–2156.

Blood Lactate Measurements and Analysis during Exercise: A Guide for Clinicians Matthew Goodwin et al J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2007 Jul; 1(4): 558–569.

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