What is the role of ethanol in the treatment of ethylene glycol (EG) toxicity?

Updated: Dec 05, 2017
  • Author: Daniel C Keyes, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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If fomepizole is not used, oral or parenteral ethanol loading is less commonly used as a temporizing measure while awaiting test results. A loading dose of ethanol is administered based on body weight, followed by infusion to maintain a serum level of approximately 100 mg/dL.

Carefully calculate the loading dose and administration of ethanol antidote to prevent excessive administration. Overly aggressive ethanol administration has reportedly caused cases of apnea that required intubation and mechanical ventilation, so serum ethanol concentrations must be checked regularly and the infusion rate adjusted to prevent over- or undertreatment. When administering ethanol, determine glucose levels by fingerstick collection at regular intervals and confirm with laboratory analysis, as hypoglycemia is occasionally associated with ethanol therapy. Other potential adverse effects include hyponatremia, sclerosis of veins, and intoxication (which can be particularly distressing in pediatric patients).

Any patient receiving intravenous ethanol therapy requires ICU monitoring.

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