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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 125-128

Methemoglobinemia: When to suspect and how to treat

Department of Emergency Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kundavaram Paul Prabhakar Abhilash
Department of Emergency Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_55_19

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Methemoglobinemia is an altered state of the hemoglobin moiety resulting in impaired oxygen delivery to the tissues. It is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the ferrous iron of heme is oxidized to ferric iron. Methemoglobinemia has been linked to a wide array of drugs, chemicals, and substances such as local anesthetics, industrial chemicals, and insecticides. Many of these compounds have no details of the composition and can result in severe methemoglobinemia. Clinical suspicion should be aroused with low oxygen saturation on pulse oximetry and the presence of chocolate-colored blood. Immediate administration of the antidote, methylene blue when indicated, effectively decreases methemoglobin levels to tolerable levels.

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