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Methotrexate is an antifolate agent used in treatment of several malignancies. Many toxicities accompany methotrexate that are minimized with urine alkalinization. Parenteral sodium bicarbonate is the historical standard alkalinizing agent, but use has been limited by intermittent shortages. However, intravenous sodium acetate may be considered as a chemically equivalent alternative. The primary objective of this study is to determine the efficacy of sodium acetate versus sodium bicarbonate for urine alkalinization for high-dose methotrexate (HDMTX). This is a retrospective cohort study including adults admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital to receive HDMTX for lymphoma, breast cancer with leptomeningial spread, or osteosarcoma. Patients must have received intravenous sodium acetate or sodium bicarbonate alkalinization. Of 192 HDMTX encounters, 154 (sodium bicarbonate, n = 86; sodium acetate, n = 68) were evaluated for efficacy and safety. Safety outcomes were not significantly different between groups except for higher peak methotrexate level in the bicarbonate group (2.9 mcmol/L vs. 1.7 mcmol/L, p = 0.023), and increased incidence of grade 3-4 ALT in the sodium bicarbonate group (23.5% vs. 9%, p = 0.02). Time from alkalinizer initiation to pH ≥7 was significantly shorter with sodium bicarbonate (4 vs. 5.15 h, p = 0.021). Nonetheless, outcomes such as length of stay (4.4 vs. 4 days respectively, p = 0.037) and time to methotrexate clearance (3.6 vs. 3.2 days respectively, p = 0.023) reveal that inpatient time was shorter with sodium acetate overall. This retrospective analysis suggests that sodium acetate has similar efficacy and safety to sodium bicarbonate for alkalinization and may be considered as an alternative in future shortage situations.


Cassandra L Perkey, Laura A Flynn, Katie Lentz, Sara Butler. Retrospective evaluation of sodium acetate use for urine alkalinization in patients receiving high dose methotrexate. Journal of oncology pharmacy practice : official publication of the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners. 2023 Jan;29(1):119-124

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PMID: 34931924

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