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Visual blurring and metabolic acidosis after ingestion of bootlegged alcohol

Manish Rathi, Vinay Sakhuja, Vivekanand Jha
Hemodialysis International 2006, 10 (1): 8-14
Extracorporeal treatments have an important role in the management of several types of poisonings and drug overdosage. Methanol poisoning is a major problem in large parts of the developing world, especially among the economically depressed, and is responsible for innumerable deaths annually. Poisoning occurs when methanol, a contaminant of bootlegged alcohol, is consumed unknowingly. Toxicity is related to formaldehyde and formic acid formed as a result of methanol metabolism, and presents as metabolic acidosis, visual impairment, neurological manifestations, and shock. Initial symptoms are nonspecific and masked by the inebriating effect of ethanol. Appropriate management requires immediate administration of ethanol, which competitively inhibits methanol metabolism and prevents the generation of toxic formic acid and hemodialysis to achieve expeditious clearance of methanol and formic acid. Fomepizole, a safer metabolic inhibitor, has largely replaced ethanol in the western world. Delay in seeking medical attention contributes to mortality and morbidity. We report on a patient who presented to us 8 hr after consumption of countrymade alcohol with symptoms of methanol poisoning. Prompt administration of ethanol and institution of hemodialysis resulted in complete reversal of all manifestations.

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