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Isopropanol poisoning.

INTRODUCTION: Isopropanol is a clear, colorless liquid with a fruity odor and a mild bitter taste. Most commonly found domestically as rubbing alcohol, isopropanol is also found in numerous household and commercial products including cleaners, disinfectants, antifreezes, cosmetics, solvents, inks, and pharmaceuticals.

AIM: The aim of this review is to critically review the epidemiology, toxicokinetics, mechanisms of toxicity, clinical features, diagnosis, and management of isopropanol poisoning.

METHODS: OVID MEDLINE and ISI Web of Science were searched to November 2013 using the words "isopropanol", "isopropyl alcohol", "2-propanol", "propan-2-ol", and "rubbing alcohol" combined with the keywords "poisoning", "poison", "toxicity", "ingestion", "adverse effects", "overdose", or "intoxication". These searches identified 232 citations, which were then screened via their abstract to identify relevant articles referring specifically to the epidemiology, toxicokinetics, mechanisms of toxicity, clinical features, diagnosis, and management of isopropanol poisoning; 102 were relevant. Further information was obtained from book chapters, relevant news reports, and internet resources. These additional searches produced eight non-duplicate relevant citations.

EPIDEMIOLOGY: The majority of isopropanol exposures are unintentional and occur in children less than 6 years of age. Although isopropanol poisoning appears to be a reasonably common occurrence, deaths are rare.

TOXICOKINETICS: Isopropanol is rapidly absorbed following ingestion with peak plasma concentrations occurring within 30 min. It can also be absorbed following inhalation or dermal exposure. Isopropanol is widely distributed with a volume of distribution of 0.45-0.55 L/kg. Isopropanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetone, acetol and methylglyoxal, propylene glycol, acetate, and formate with conversion of these metabolites to glucose and other products of intermediary metabolism. The elimination of isopropanol is predominantly renal, though some pulmonary excretion of isopropanol and acetone occurs. In one case 20% of the absorbed dose was eliminated unchanged in urine, with the remainder excreted as acetone and metabolites of acetone. The elimination half-life of isopropanol is between 2.5 and 8.0 h, whereas elimination of acetone is slower with a half-life following isopropanol ingestion of between 7.7 and 27 h.

MECHANISMS OF TOXICITY: While the exact mechanism of action of isopropanol has not been fully elucidated, brain stem depression is thought to be the predominant mechanism. While the clinical effects are thought to be mostly due to isopropanol, acetone may also contribute.

CLINICAL FEATURES: The major features of severe poisoning are due to CNS and respiratory depression, shock, and circulatory collapse. The most common metabolic effects are an increased osmol (osmolal) gap, ketonemia, and ketonuria. Diagnosis. Poisoning can be diagnosed using the measurement of isopropanol serum concentrations, though these may not be readily available. Diagnosis is therefore more typically made on the basis of the patient's history and clinical presentation. An osmol gap, ketonemia, and/or ketonuria without metabolic acidosis, along with a fruity or sweet odor on the breath and CNS depression support the diagnosis. Management. Supportive care is the mainstay of management with primary emphasis on respiratory and cardiovascular support. Hemodialysis enhances elimination of isopropanol and acetone and should be considered in very severe poisoning.

CONCLUSIONS: Severe isopropanol poisoning results in CNS and respiratory depression and circulatory collapse. Treatment primarily consists of symptom-directed supportive care. Although hemodialysis increases the elimination of isopropanol and acetone substantially, it should only be considered in severe life-threatening poisonings. Patients usually make a full recovery provided they receive prompt supportive care.

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