J Korean Soc Clin Toxicol.  2016 Dec;14(2):136-143. 10.22537/jksct.2016.14.2.136.

General Characteristics for Poisoning-Induced Transient or Sustained Hyperammonemia

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, CHA Gumi Medical Center, CHA University, Gumi, Korea. twilight2002@naver.com
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.


In patients with altered mentality caused by drugs or unknown causes, ammonia is checked to facilitate differential diagnosis or diagnose hepatic coma. This helps early prevention and treatment of brain damage due to hyperammonemia. This study was conducted to evaluate clinical characteristics of intoxicated adult patients with hyperammonemia.
We evaluated 95 patients with hyperammonemia among intoxicated patients above the age of 15 who visited our ED from January 2013 to December 2015. We analyzed the demographic characteristics and type of poisoning substance, reason for ingestion, toxicological characteristics such as elapsed time from ingestion to hospital visit, lab, clinical progression and complications. Data were evaluated using the student's t test or Mann-Whitney U test for continuous variables, and Chi-square test and Fisher's exact test for frequency analysis of categorical variables.
When compared to healthy individuals, patients with hyperammonemia showed statistical significance on their SOFA score (p=0.016) and poison severity score (p<0.001). Additionally, patients with hyperammonemia showed significantly different initial serum AST level (p=0.012) and maximum serum AST level during the hospital stay (p=0.026) when compared to healthy individuals. Moreover, individuals with sustained hyperammonemia compared to transient hyperammonemia showed clinically significant SOFA scores (p<0.001), poison severity scores (p=0.007), mortality rates in the ICU (p=0.021), as well as different duration of hospital stay (p=0.037), serum creatinine level (p=0.002), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p=0.025), and serum myoglobin (p=0.015).
Most poisoning-induced hyperammonemia cases were transient and recovered without special treatment. Therefore, hyperammonemia is almost non-specific among poisoning patients.


Hyperammonemia; Poisoning; SOFA; Poison severity score
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