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Acute Hemodialysis for Treatment of Severe Ethanol Intoxication.

A male college student presented to the emergency department with altered mental status and a serum ethanol level higher than the hospital laboratory assay. His course was complicated by mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, and cardiotoxicity. Thirteen hours into admission and despite aggressive supportive measures, the patient remained obtunded off sedation with serum ethanol level elevated at 428 mg/dL. A decision was made to initiate hemodialysis to expedite ethanol clearance and prevent further end-organ damage. Two hours into hemodialysis, mental status improved and serum ethanol level had decreased to 264 mg/dL. A total of 4 hours of hemodialysis were completed and serum ethanol level continued to downtrend. Dialysis increased the rate of ethanol elimination by a factor of 4 and prevented further cardiotoxicity or electrolyte level abnormalities. This case supports the use of hemodialysis for adult patients who meet the criteria of severe ethanol toxicity requiring critical care resources and having evidence of organ toxicity to 1 or more organ.

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