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Pharmacotherapy. 1981 Sep-Oct;1(2):147-60.

Glycerol: a review of its pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, adverse reactions, and clinical use.


Glycerol is a potent osmotic dehydrating agent with additional effects on brain metabolism. In doses of 0.25-2.0 g/kg glycerol decreases intracranial pressure in numerous disease states, including Reye's syndrome, stroke, encephalitis, meningitis, pseudotumor cerebri, central nervous system tumor, and space occupying lesions. It is also effective in lowering intraocular pressure in glaucoma and shrinking the brain during neurosurgical procedures. Hyperosmolality with rebound cerebral overhydration is of concern, especially in patients with altered blood brain barriers. They may be avoided if glycerol is administered on an intermittent rather than a continuous basis. Intravascular hemolysis does not occur with oral use. When administered intravenously, hemolysis can be minimized by using glycerol 10% in dextrose 5% with normal saline at rates of 6 mg/kg/min or less. However, intravenous doses of 1-2 g/kg every 2 hr can be administered safely in severe cases of elevated ICP. In such patients, glycerol serum concentration, serum osmolality and ICP monitoring are required to optimize glycerol therapy.

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