Research Article

Diuresis or urinary alkalinisation for salicylate poisoning?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 13 November 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:1383
  1. L F Prescott,
  2. M Balali-Mood,
  3. J A Critchley,
  4. A F Johnstone,
  5. A T Proudfoot


    Forty-four adults with aspirin poisoning were treated with oral fluids only, standard forced alkaline diuresis, forced diuresis alone, or sodium bicarbonate (alkali) alone. Alkali alone was at least as effective and possibly more effective than forced alkaline diuresis in enhancing salicylate removal. Unlike the diuresis regimens it did not cause fluid retention or biochemical disturbances. The renal excretion of salicylate depends much more on urine pH than flow rate, and forced diuresis alone had little useful effect. In overdosage aspirin causes sodium and fluid retention and may impair renal function. Attempts to force a diuresis are potentially hazardous and the spurious fall in plasma salicylate concentration caused by haemodilution gives a false impression of efficacy. Further studies are required to determine the optimum treatment for salicylate poisoning.