Characteristics of Laboratory Confirmed Ethylene Glycol and Methanol Exposures Reported to a Regional Poison Control Center


  • Robert C. Tung, B.S. University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita
  • Stephen L. Thornton, M.D. University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, KS



ethylene glycol, methanol, poison control centers, Kansas


Introduction. Ethylene glycol (EG) and methanol (MET) exposures
are rare but can cause significant morbidity and mortality.
Though frequently treated similarly, EG and MET exposures have
characteristics that are not well differentiated in the literature. We
sought to describe the clinical characteristics of EG and MET exposures,
confirmed with quantitative serum levels.

Methods. An IRB-approved retrospective review of the University
of Kansas Health System Poison Control Center database from July
2005 to July 2015 identified all EG/MET exposures evaluated at
a health care facility. Initial measurements were EG/MET levels,
serum pH, serum creatinine, anion gap, serum ethanol level, max
anion gap, max osmolar gap, therapy performed (hemodialysis,
fomepizole, ethanol) and death.

Results. The search identified 75 cases, with 59 cases having only
detectable EG levels and 15 cases having only detectable MET levels.
The average EG level was 126 mg/dL (range 5 - 834). The average
detectable methanol level was 78 mg/dL (range 5 - 396). The average
maximum anion gap of the EG positive group was 20 mEq/L (range
8 - 35). The average maximum anion gap of the MET positive group
was 14 mEq/L (range 6 - 34). One death was reported in the EG positive
group, with an initial level of 266 mg/dL.

Conclusions. In this study of EG/MET exposures, EG exposures
were more common than MET exposures, but they had similar
demographics, laboratory findings, and interventions. Continued
studies are warranted to characterize these uncommon exposures
further. Kans J Med 2018;11(3):67-69.






Original Research