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Open Access Case report

Accidental methanol ingestion: Case report

Jelle L Epker* and Jan Bakker

Author Affiliations

Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Department of Intensive Care Medicine, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2010, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-10-3

Published: 22 February 2010



The incidence of methanol (CH3OH) intoxication differs enormously from country to country. Methanol intoxication is extremely rare in the Dutch population. Even a low dose can already be potentially lethal. Patients are conventionally treated with hemodialysis. Therefore we'd like to present a report of a foreign sailor in Rotterdam who accidentally caused himself severe methanol intoxication, with a maximum measured concentration of 4.4 g/L.

Case presentation

The patient presented with hemodynamic instability and severe metabolic acidosis with pH 6.69. The anion gap was 39 mmol/L and the osmol gap 73 mosmol/kg. Treatment with ethanol and continuous venovenous hemodiafiltration (CVVH-DF) was initiated. Despite the hemodynamic instability it is was possible to achieve rapid correction of pH and methanol concentration with CVVH-DF while maintaining a stable and therapeutic ethanol serum concentration. Despite hemodynamic and acid-base improvement, our patient developed massive cerebral edema leading to brain death. Permission for organ donation was unfortunately not ascertained.


We conclude that in a hemodynamic instable situation high methanol concentrations and methanol-induced derangements of homeostasis are safely and effectively treated with CVVH-DF and that severe cerebral edema is another possible cause of death rather than the classical bleeding in the putamen area.