Alcoholic Ketosis

Milford Fulop*, Jonathan Ben‐Ezra, Jay Bock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We prospectively studied 23 episodes of suspected alcoholic ketosis in order to team whether there was objective evidence of the patients having stopped drinking ethanol a few days before admission, and of being starved. Eight patients had moderate ketosis (plasma 3‐hydroxybutyrate 4.1–7.8 mmot/liter); seven patients had mild ketosis (2–4 mmol/liter); and eight had little or no ketosis (less than 2 mmd/ liter). The latter eight patients had mainly lactic acidosis (plasma lactate 2.0–13.3 mmol/liter). Most of the ketotic patients did not have ethanol detected in their blood. The presence of starvation was supported by the finding of subnormal plasma triiodothyronine levels (less than 90 /μg/dl) in six of seven ketotic patients (average 60 μg/dl for ad seven). The ketotic patients usually had low‐normal plasma insulin levels (3‐ 16 μU/ml), as is common in starvation. Our findings support the previously undocumented belief that most patients with alcoholic ketosis did stop drinking ethanol some time before admission, and that starvation is a major pathogenetic factor in the disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-615
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1986
Externally publishedYes


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