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July 12, 1993

Treatment of Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Author Affiliations

Boston, Mass

Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(13):1614. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410130138017

In their recent article, Curtin et al1 probably relied on a computer search to compile their bibliography. While computers and bibliographic software programs speed up literature searching, they do have their own pitfalls; chiefly, that the world's literature begins when the databases were started. Therefore, articles published earlier, are overlooked.

I should like to point out that the use of ethyl alcohol to treat ethylene glycol poisoning goes back to 1963 when studies by Peterson et al2 showed that ethylene glycol is a substrate of alcohol dehydrogenase and that ethyl alcohol inhibits its oxidation, thus preventing the conversion of ethylene glycol to toxic intermediates and oxalic acid. Moreover, in the same article, experiments carried out using squirrel monkeys proved that treatment of these animals with ethyl alcohol after supertoxic doses of ethylene glycol was successful. These studies were the basis for the first effective treatment of humans3 that