Intravenous saline has no effect on blood ethanol clearance

James Li, Trevor Mills, Ray Erato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


For patients presenting to emergency departments with ethanol intoxication, intravenous (i.v.) fluids are initiated for varied reasons. This investigation determined the effect of i.v. fluid therapy on the rate of blood ethanol clearance in such patients. Volunteers received a predetermined dose of ethanol on two separate occasions. On the second occasion, volunteers rapidly received a liter of i.v. saline directly following ethanol ingestion. At intervals on both occasions, blood ethanol levels were estimated using a breath analyzer. Using linear regression analysis, no difference was found in rates of alcohol clearance with or without i.v. fluid intervention. The common rate of clearance between both groups was 15 mg/dL/h (95% CI 12 to 18). We conclude that i.v. fluid therapy does not accelerate ethanol clearance in intoxicated patients. While such therapy may be justified for other reasons, practitioners are cautioned against initiating fluids in such patients solely to expedite ethanol elimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholic intoxication
  • Alcoholism
  • Ethanol
  • Fluid therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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