Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), an unusual cause of high anion gap metabolic acidosis

CJEM. 2018 Oct;20(S2):S2-S5. doi: 10.1017/cem.2017.10. Epub 2017 May 2.


The causes of high anion gap metabolic acidosis (HAGMA) are well described in the literature. However, sometimes more frequent causes of HAGMA cannot explain its occurrence.In the case of HAGMA and severe neurological depression in the absence of other causes of HAGMA, clinicians should consider an intoxication with gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) as a possible cause.GHB is endogenous to the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Synthetic GHB was initially used as an anesthetic but is now only licensed for medical use in a limited number of indications such as the treatment of narcolepsy. Because of its euphoric effects, it became popular for recreational use under the street names: Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy, and Liquid G.We describe the clinical case of a patient who suffered from severe neurological depression and HAGMA.

Keywords: gamma-hydroxybutyrate; high anion gap metabolic acidosis; neurological depression.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / chemically induced*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotics / analysis
  • Narcotics / poisoning*
  • Sodium Oxybate / analysis
  • Sodium Oxybate / poisoning*


  • Narcotics
  • Sodium Oxybate