Trends in Toxic Alcohol Exposures in the United States from 2000 to 2013: A Focus on the Use of Antidotes and Extracorporeal Treatments

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Morbidity and mortality from toxic alcohols like ethylene glycol and methanol remain prevalent worldwide. The introduction of fomepizole, a potent blocker of alcohol dehydrogenase, has modified current practice over the last 15 years. The aim of the study was to describe the characteristics of toxic alcohol poisoning reported to US poison centers, the trends in the incidence of antidote use and hemodialysis treatment, as well as the related mortality. A retrospective study of all electronic entries from the AAPCC National Poison Data System database, from the years 2000 to 2013 was reviewed. When considering all exposures, the great majority of patients had a benign outcome. Major effects (e.g., life threatening) occurred in 2.1% and 4.9% of methanol and ethylene glycol cases, respectively. Mortality rates were similar for both toxic alcohols, approximately 0.6%. When only considering ingestions reported to healthcare facilities, a major effect was reported in 9.5% and 20.5%, and the mortality rate was 2.9% and 2.4% for methanol and ethylene glycol exposures, respectively, and remained constant over time. The use of fomepizole increased statistically over the study period while that of ethanol decreased, until it became proportionally negligible by 2012-2013. The use of hemodialysis significantly decreased in “Early” ethylene glycol exposures during the study period. Similar to other reports, it appears that the use of fomepizole has largely supplanted ethanol as the antidote of choice in toxic alcohol exposures and may decrease the requirements for hemodialysis in patients poisoned with ethylene glycol who have no acidosis and normal kidney function.

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