Acute phenol poisoning: A life-threatening hazard of chronic pain relief

Sachin Gupta, Ashrith Guha, Divay Chandra, Aditya Kumar Gupta, Kewin W. Finkel, Jayarama S. Guntupalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background. Phenol (carbolic acid, a higher alcohol) has been used for local analgesic therapy for a long time. Several complications of phenol therapy can occur by exposure through inhalational, oral, and dermal routes. Renal and pulmonary toxicity arising from the exposure to injectable phenol, however, has only been reported in a few case reports. Case Presentation. A 50-year-old man inadvertently received 10 cc of 89% phenol injection. It resulted in the development of acute respiratory and renal failure requiring intubation and hemodialysis, respectively. He improved clinically with the recovery of renal function. However, the chest x-ray and CT scan showed persistent nodular pulmonary infiltrates which resolved by six months. Conclusion. We report here an unusual case of acute respiratory and acute renal failure following accidental overdose of phenol. The case highlights potential development of multiple organ failure with persistence of organ dysfunction, an unusual danger associated with the overdose of injectable phenol for neurolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-253
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Acute
  • Adult
  • Kidney tubular necrosis
  • Pain
  • Phenol
  • Respiratory distress syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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