University of Oulu

Kriikku, P., Ojanperä, I., & Lunetta, P. (2023). Ethylene glycol poisoning may be associated with elevated post-mortem vitreous glucose level. Legal Medicine, 64, 102279.

Ethylene glycol poisoning may be associated with elevated post-mortem vitreous glucose level

Saved in:
Author: Kriikku, Pirkko1,2; Ojanperä, Ilkka1,2; Lunetta, Philippe3,4
Organizations: 1Forensic Toxicology Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, 00271 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 40, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Biomedicine, Forensic Medicine, University of Turku, Finland
4Department of Forensic Medicine, Research Unit of Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-29


Ethylene glycol (EG) is a toxic chemical that is sometimes used as ethanol substitute. Besides the desired intoxicating effects, the intake of EG may often lead to death unless timely treatment measures are provided by medical professionals.

We examined 17 fatal EG poisonings between 2016 and March 2022 in Finland in terms of forensic toxicology and biochemistry results and demographic information. Most of the deceased were male and the median (range) age was 47 (20–77) years. Of the cases, 6 were suicides, 5 accidents and in 7 cases the intent remained undetermined. In all cases, vitreous humour (VH) glucose was above the limit of quantitation 0.35 mmol/L (mean: 5.2 mmol/L; range 0.52–19.5 mmol/L). Other markers of the glycaemic balance were within the normal range in all except one case.

As EG is not routinely screened for in most laboratories but only analysed in cases where the intake of EG is suspected, some fatal EG poisonings may remain unrecognised in post-mortem (PM) investigations. Although various conditions may induce hyperglycaemia, it is worthwhile keeping in mind that elevated PM VH glucose levels that cannot be otherwise explained may suggest intake of ethanol substitutes.

see all

Series: Legal medicine
ISSN: 1344-6223
ISSN-E: 1873-4162
ISSN-L: 1344-6223
Volume: 64
Article number: 102279
DOI: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2023.102279
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 319 Forensic science and other medical sciences
Copyright information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (