Methanol Toxicity Treatment & Management

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: Kalyani Korabathina, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Treatment

Approach Considerations

Prompt medical care is key to avoiding complications secondary to methanol intoxication. Supportive therapy is aimed at initiating airway management, correcting electrolyte disturbances, and providing adequate hydration.

Metabolic acidosis in methanol poisoning may necessitate the administration of bicarbonate and assisted ventilation. Bicarbonate potentially may reverse visual deficits. In addition, bicarbonate may help to decrease the amount of active formic acid.

Antidote therapy, often using ethanol or fomepizole, is directed towards delaying methanol metabolism until the methanol is eliminated from the patient’s system either naturally or via dialysis. Like methanol, ethanol is metabolized by ADH, but the enzyme’s affinity for ethanol is 10-20 times higher than it is for methanol. Fomepizole is also metabolized by ADH; however, its use is limited because of high cost and lack of availability. [10, 22, 23]

Hemodialysis can easily remove methanol and formic acid. Indications for this procedure include (1) greater than 30mL of methanol ingested, (2) serum methanol level greater than 20 mg/dL, (3) observation of visual complications, and (4) no improvement in acidosis despite repeated sodium bicarbonate infusions.

Consultations

Consultation with the following specialists can be beneficial:

  • Nephrologist - Consultation with a nephrologist is advisable to aid in the correction of the metabolic disturbance; the nephrologist can also help to arrange dialysis, respiratory care, or both

  • Ophthalmologist - Consultation with an ophthalmologist is recommended for assessment of ocular damage

  • Neurologist - Consultation with a neurologist is arranged to assist with the management of seizures in the acute setting or with the treatment of any subsequent movement disorders that may develop