Outcome of patients in acute poisoning with ethylene glycol—factors which may have influence on evolution

A Tanasescu, R A Macovei, M S Tudosie
Journal of Medicine and Life 2014, 7 Spec No. 3: 81-6

INTRODUCTION: Intoxication with ethylene glycol occurs as a result of intentional ingestion in suicide attempts or accidentally. Clinical ethylene glycol poisoning is not specific and occurs in many poisoning cases therefore the diagnosis is difficult. Early diagnostic and establishment of therapy are very important for a favorable evolution. The mortality rate of ethylene glycol intoxication ranges between 1 and 22% depending on the amount of alcohol ingestion and the time period between alcohol ingestion and initiation of therapy.

METHODS: Retrospectively analyzed data from 18 patients admitted with ethylene glycol poisoning in the emergency department between 2011 and 2012. The following were taken into consideration: incidence of intoxication in the group study, medical history, the amount ingested and the time since the ingestion of ethylene glycol and the admission to hospital, presence of metabolic acidosis and laboratory test results on admission (urea, creatinine osmolar or anion gaps), the treatment initiated and the outcome of the patient.

RESULTS: 18 patients with ethylene glycol intoxication were admitted to hospital between 2011 and 2012. The initial diagnosis based on a detailed clinical history in combination with the presence of metabolic acidosis with elevation of the osmolar or anion gaps. 12 of the 18 patients were man (66%) and age range interval was between 23 and 77 years. The time from the ingestion of ethylene glycol and the admission to hospital was between 30 minutes and older than 24 hours. 14 patients have been presented earlier to the hospital, between 30 minutes and 12 hours (in the first part of the clinical stage) and 13 of the 14 patients had a favorable evolution. One of these patients had an unfavorable evolution. Regarding this patient, the amount ingested was unknown. 10 of the 18 patients had a voluntary ingestion (55,55%) and 6 of the 18 patients had an alcoholism medical history. The amount ingested by the patients was between 20 ml and 500 ml. Metabolic acidosis was present up to 55,55% (10 of the 18 patients) in the blood gas analysis on admission, with pH on admission between 6.9 and 7.27, with anion gap ranging between 16.3 mmol/l and 32.6 mmol/l (normal range 8-16 mmol/l). Ten patients also had an increased level of urea and creatinine with a level between 1.24 to 6.85 mg/dl for creatinine (normal range 0.5-1.2 mg/dl) and 49 to 98 mg/dl for urea (normal range 15-43 mg/dl) and developed acute kidney injury that required regular HD sessions. Mechanical ventilation was required for 7 of the 18 patients (38.88%). Five patients died (27.77%). Although metabolic acidosis was corrected under hemodialysis, there were patients who had multiple organ failure and systems: acute respiratory failure requiring ventilator support, acute renal failure requiring dialysis daily sessions, altered state of consciousness.

CONCLUSIONS: The early diagnostic and exclusion of the other diseases and other poisoning led to a specific treatment of the intoxication. The time from the ingestion of ethylene glycol and the early establishment of therapy is very important for a favorable evolution and can prevent substantial mortality.

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