ANNALS EXPRESS: Assessment of a semi-quantitative screening method for diagnosis of ethylene glycol poisoning.

Wednesday, 28 September, 2016



Ethylene glycol (EG) poisoning remains a rare but important presentation to acute toxicology units. Guidelines recommended that Ethylene Glycol should be available as an 'urgent' test within 4 hours but these are difficult to deliver in practice. This study assessed a semi-quantitative enzymatic spectrophotometric assay for EG compatible with automated platforms.


The EG method was assessed in 21 samples from patients with an increased anion gap and metabolic acidosis not due to EG ingestion, and 7 samples known to contain EG. All samples were analysed in random order in a blinded-manner to their origin on a laboratory spectrophotometer.


In this study, 7 samples were known to contain EG at concentrations >100mg/L. The method correctly identified all 7 samples as containing EG. No false positives were observed. 13 samples gave clear negative results. EG was present at <20mg/L in one sample, but this sample remained within the limits of the negative control. Passing-Bablock correlation of estimates of EG concentration against results obtained when the samples had been analysed using the quantitative method on an automated analyser showed a good correlation (R=0.84) but with an apparent under-recovery.


A semi-quantitative assay for EG was able to discriminate well between samples containing EG and those with other causes of acidosis. It is a practical small-scale assay for rapid identification of cases of EG-poisoning.

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 2016 Sep 28. pii: 0004563216672892. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID: 27687084