Friday, February 9, 2007

Nice Pickup...A Glowing Intoxication

This week's New England Journal of Medicine published an image showing fluorescing urine from a patient who presented to a NYC Emergency Department. At triage, it was thought that he was one of the regulars who just drank too much.

There is some truth to that.

After his blood pH level came back at 7.0, Dr Chris McStay, seen below, realized this patient didn't just drink a pint of vodka. He took the patient's urine and shined a UV light on it (as seen in photo). The basin on the right shows a purple fluorescence - representing sodium fluorescein, a chemical that is added to antifreeze to aid in the detection of radiator leaks. Turns out, the patient's level of ethylene glycol was greater than 200 mg/dL.

Nice pickup, Dr McStay.

To listen to a short interview with Dr McStay on NPR this morning click here.

"Nice pickup
" is a column designed to post cases seen in the Emergency Department that may otherwise go unrecognized were it not for the critical thinking of an EM doctor or nurse.

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