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Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

Lab Manual for SFGH

Internal Resources


Item Value
Available Stat? Yes
Test code VOLS
Performed by? Chemistry
Price range $$
In House Availability Mon -Fri, 7:30 am - 11:30 pm; Sat and Sun,
7:30 am - 3:00 pm
Principle Headspace Gas Chromatography Flame Ionization Detector (HSGC-FID).


Ethanol and methanol may also be ordered separately.
1) ETHANOL: no therapeutic/normal range, limit of detection: 10 mg/dL,

critical value: > 400 mg/dL

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.

2) METHANOL: no therapeutic/normal range, limit of detection: 10 mg/dL,

toxic level: > 20mg/dL

When ingested methanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to formaldehyde and subsequently by aldehyde dehydrogenase to formic acid. These metabolites can cause an anion gap metabolic acidosis and retinal damage. Measurement of the osmolality and calculation of the osmolal gap is helpful to screen patients who may be intoxicated with methanol.

3) ISOPROPANOL and ACETONE: no therapeutic/normal range, limit of detection: 10 mg/dL, toxic level: variable

Unlike the other common alcohol substitutes methanol and ethylene glycol, isopropanol is not metabolized to highly toxic organic acids and therefore does not produce a profound anion gap metabolic acidosis. Isopropanol is metabolized to acetone, both of which are potent CNS depressants. Ingestion may result in coma and respiratory arrest. Levels higher than 150 mg/dL usually cause coma, but patients with levels up to 500 mg/dL have survived with supportive care and dialysis.

Container type Serum or plasma (gold, green, gray)
Amount to Collect 4 mL
Sample type Serum is preferred. Plasma and whole blood are acceptable.
Min. Volume 2 mL
Normal range Negative
Stability The sample must be kept capped. Methanol is unstable.
24 hours at room temperature
1 week at 2-8°C (refrigerated)
2 weeks at -20°C (frozen)
Turn around times 2 hours
Last Updated 4/21/2014 7:42:25 PM
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