Sulfhemoglobinemia after dermal application of DMSO

Jefferey L. Burgess, Albert P. Hamner, William O. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A 43-y-old Caucasian female applied 4 ounces of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to her lower abdomen for treatment of interstitial cystitis. Within 24 h she developed fatigue, cyanosis and dyspnea with mild exertion. She sought medical attention 10 d later, at which time initial laboratory tests revealed a methemoglobin level of 47%. Two doses of 1 mg methylene blue/kg iv were given without significant improvement in either her cyanosis or methemoglobin level. Repeat analysis the day following admission using an outside lab demonstrated a sulfhemoglobin level of 6.2% and a methemoglobin level of <0.1%. No prior reports have associated sulfhemoglobin formation with DMSO application. Carbon monoxide-oximetry may falsely identify sulfhemoglobin as methemoglobin; sulfhemoglobinemia should be considered in cases of methemoglobinemia refractory to methylene blue therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-89
Number of pages3
JournalVeterinary and Human Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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