What is the pathophysiology of isopropanol alcohol toxicity?

Updated: Jan 05, 2021
  • Author: Michael D Levine, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol; CH3 -CHOH-CH3) is a low molecular weight hydrocarbon. It is commonly found as both a solvent as well as a disinfectant. [4] It can be found in many mouthwashes, skin lotions, rubbing alcohol, and hand sanitizers. Because of its widespread availability, lack of purchasing restrictions, and profound intoxicating properties, it is commonly used as an ethanol substitute.

Isopropanol is rapidly absorbed across the gastric mucosa and reaches a peak concentration approximately 30-120 minutes after ingestion. Isopropanol is primarily metabolized via alcohol dehydrogenase to acetone. A small portion of isopropanol is excreted unchanged in the urine. The peak concentration of acetone is not present until approximately 4 hours after ingestion. The acetone produces CNS depressant effects and a fruity odor on the breath. [5]

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