Expert opinion: fomepizole may ameliorate the need for hemodialysis in methanol poisoning

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2008 Jul;27(7):539-46. doi: 10.1177/0960327108095992.


Fomepizole is now the antidote of choice in methanol poisoning. The use of fomepizole may also change the indications for hemodialysis in these patients. We have addressed this change in a review of articles on methanol poisonings. Review of the literature (through PubMed) combined with our own experiences from two recent methanol outbreaks in Estonia and Norway. The efficiency of dialysis during fomepizole treatment was reported in only a few reports. One recent study challenged the old indications, suggesting a new approach with delayed or even no hemodialysis. Methanol-poisoned patients on fomepizole treatment may be separated into two categories: 1) The critically ill patient, with severe metabolic acidosis (base deficit >15 mM) and/or visual disturbances should be given buffer, fomepizole and immediate hemodialysis: dialysis removes the toxic anion formate, and assists in correcting the metabolic acidosis, thereby also reducing formate toxicity. The removal of methanol per se is not important in this setting because fomepizole prevents further production of formic acid. 2) The stable patient, with less metabolic acidosis and no visual disturbances, should be given buffer and fomepizole. This treatment allows for the possibility to delay, or even drop, dialysis in this setting, because patients will not develop more clinical features from methanol poisoning when fomepizole and bicarbonate is given in adequate doses. Indications and triage for hemodialysis in methanol poisonings should be modified. Delayed hemodialysis or even no hemodialysis may be an option in selected cases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / chemically induced
  • Acidosis / drug therapy
  • Antidotes / therapeutic use*
  • Bicarbonates / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fomepizole
  • Humans
  • Methanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / drug therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Solvents / pharmacokinetics
  • Solvents / poisoning*
  • Triage


  • Antidotes
  • Bicarbonates
  • Pyrazoles
  • Solvents
  • Fomepizole
  • Methanol