Treatment of acute cyanide intoxication with hemodialysis

Am J Nephrol. 1985;5(2):121-6. doi: 10.1159/000166918.


A dramatic response was noted in a patient at our hospital who received hemodialysis therapy for severe acidosis secondary to an unknown toxin, subsequently identified as cyanide. We were unable to find any information concerning the hemodialysis clearance and extraction ratio of cyanide; thus, we studied the effect of hemodialysis in dogs receiving a constant infusion of cyanide with and without a simultaneous infusion of thiosulfate. The hemodialysis clearance of cyanide in the presence of thiosulfate was 38.3 +/- 5.4 ml/min with an extraction ratio of 0.43 +/- 0.06 (n = 4). Hemodialysis was found to increase the lethal dose of cyanide without thiosulfate infusion, and a further increase was noted with the thiosulfate infusion. Thiosulfate promotes mitochondrial metabolism of cyanide to thiocyanate. The end product, thiocyanate, is quickly removed by hemodialysis. We believe that the demonstrated effectiveness of hemodialysis in the treatment of acute cyanide intoxication is related not only to the hemodialysis clearance of cyanide, but also to the removal of its metabolic end product, thiocyanate. Based on our observations, we feel that hemodialysis is an effective adjunct in the treatment of acute cyanide intoxication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / chemically induced
  • Acidosis / therapy
  • Animals
  • Cyanides / poisoning*
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium Cyanide / metabolism
  • Potassium Cyanide / poisoning*
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Thiosulfates / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Cyanides
  • Thiosulfates
  • Potassium Cyanide