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Interpretive Handbook

Test 500323 :
Ethanol, Urine

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Ethanol is the single most important substance of abuse in the United States. It is the active agent in beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, rum, and other liquors.


Ethanol acts on cerebral functions as a depressant similar to general anesthetics. This depression causes most of the typical symptoms of intoxication including impaired thought, clouded judgment, and changed behavior. As the level of alcohol increases, the degree of impairment becomes progressively increased.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Detection and quantitation of prior consumption or administration of ethanol

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Individuals who chronically consume ethanol develop a tolerance to the drug, and require higher levels than described above to achieve various states of intoxication.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Quantitation in urine correlates poorly with the degree of intoxication.


Not intended for use in employment-related testing or issues regarding legal ethanol intoxication.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

None detected (Positive results are quantitated.)

Cutoff concentration: 10 mg/dL

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Caplan YH: In Forensic Science Handbook. Vol 1. Edited by R Saferstein. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1982

2. Goodman and Gilman's: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. Seventh edition. Edited by TW Rall, F Murad. New York, McMillan Publishing, 1985

3. Porter WF, Moyer TP: Clinical toxicology. In Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Fourth edition. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood. Philadelphia, WB Saunders Company, 1993, pp 1155-1235

4. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Edited by B Levine. Washington DC, American Association of Clinical Chemistry, 1999