The value of brain CT findings in acute methanol toxicity

Eur J Radiol. 2010 Feb;73(2):211-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 20.


Objective: Due to depressant effects of methanol on the central nervous system, brain computed tomography (CT) scan has been introduced as a diagnostic device in methanol intoxication. The authors aimed to present brain CT findings in patients with acute methanol intoxication and to determine signs associated with death.

Materials and methods: This cohort study involved 42 consecutive patients with acute methanol intoxication. Inclusion criteria were consisted of characteristic clinical presentation of methanol poisoning, and metabolic acidosis with increased anion and osmolar gaps. Brain CT scans without contrast medium were obtained. To determine the association between the CT findings and death, the chi-square test or the Fisher's exact test, odds ratio (OR) and its 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were calculated.

Results: Twenty-eight patients (66.6%) had a total of 55 abnormal findings on brain CT, in which bilateral putaminal hypodense lesions was the most common manifestation (27 cases, 96.4%). Putaminal hemorrhage with varying degrees was observed in 7 patients (25%). Six patients (21.4%) had low attenuation lesions in the subcortical white matter of the insula. A significant association was observed between putaminal hemorrhage (OR=8, 95% CI=1.187-53.93, P=0.018) and subcortical necrosis of the insula (OR=11, 95% CI=1.504-80.426, P=0.007) with death.

Conclusion: In addition to clinical and laboratory findings, presence of putaminal hemorrhage and insular subcortex white matter necrosis are associated with a poor clinical outcome in patients with methanol poisoning.

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / chemically induced*
  • Acidosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / chemically induced*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Methanol