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Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

Lab Manual for SFGH

Internal Resources


Item Value
Available Stat? Yes
Test code Serum or Plasma - ETHL
Urine - ETOH
Performed by? Chemistry
Sendout? no
Price range Serum or Plasma - $$
Urine - $$$
In House Availability Routine: 7 days
Stat: 24 hours/7 Days
Principle Ethanol is oxidized to acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase. An increase in NADH is measured at 340 nm.
Interpretation CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: When blood ethanol has reached the level of 50 mg/dL, euphoria, social disinhibition, mild ataxia, slowed reflexes and judgment are observed. Serum levels are 10 – 35 % greater than whole blood levels. Coma may occur when the blood ethanol reaches 300 mg/dL and death may result when levels exceed 400 mg/dL.

COMMENT: Blood ethanol equals serum ethanol divided by 1.18. Driving while intoxicated = 80 mg/100 mL for ethanol in whole blood.
Container type gold or green top gel tube; sterile urine cup
Amount to Collect 2 mL
Sample type serum, plasma or urine
Special instructions Do not use alcohol or alcohol containing solutions as a skin preparation for drawing specimens. Aqueous Zephiran (benzalkonium chloride), aqueous merthiolate (thermerosol), or betadine are recommended disinfectants.
Normal range < 10 mg/dL (< 2 mmol/L)

A result greater than 400 mg/dL (> 87 mmol/L) is considered a Critical Value, and will be called to the physician or patient care unit immediately except to the Emergency Department. As requested, the Emergency Department will not be called.

Urine ethanol CUTOFF – 50 mg/dL.
Stability Stable at 2-8°C for 2 days if container is tightly capped.
Interferences False positive ethanol in urine has been reported when glucose and yeast or bacteria are present. Ethanol can be produced in the sample post-collection if left out a room temperature.
References 1. Tietz, N.W. Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnosis, ed. 4. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders, 1300-0301; 2006.

2. DRI Ethyl Alcohol Assay 0318-2 2003-03. Microgenics Corporation, Fremont, CA.
CPT coding 82055, 80101

Last Updated 7/11/2013 2:18:47 PM
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