High urine ethanol and negative blood and vitreous ethanol in a diabetic woman: A case report, retrospective case survey, and review of the literature

Academic Article


  • Several studies have shown that ethanol can be produced in urine infected with yeast or bacteria in vitro. We present the unusual case of a diabetic woman in whom ethanol was produced in her urine in vivo. The decedent was a 19-year-old woman who was noncompliant with her diabetes treatment. She presented to a local hospital in severe diabetic ketoacidosis and died shortly thereafter. Upon arrival at the hospital, a blood glucose of 553 mg/dL was detected. A urinalysis was positive for ketones (> 80 mg/dL), glucose (> 1000 mg/dL), and large budding yeast forms. A drug screen performed on the urine was positive for ethanol. At the coroner/medical examiner office, an autopsy was negative for significant anatomic findings. Toxicology analysis revealed a urine ethanol level 0.32 g/dL, although no ethanol was detected in blood or vitreous samples. A urine gram stain and culture identified Candida glabrata. A retrospective case review of all deaths related to diabetes examined at the coroner/medical examiner office from 1986 to 2003 did not reveal other cases with similar findings. This case of a noncompliant, juvenile-diabetic woman illustrates a rare finding of apparent in vivo glucose fermentation by C. glabrata to form ethanol in the urine. This case also highlights a potential difficulty in toxicologic analysis and interpretation using urine only.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gruszecki AC; Robinson CA; Kloda S; Brissie RM
  • Start Page

  • 96
  • End Page

  • 98
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 1