Doctors were treating a woman in need of a liver transplant, when they suddenly noticed her bladder was producing unbelievably high quantities of ethanol, according to a case study published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
When they first saw her urine test results, suspicions arose that she had been trying to conceal having a weakness for alcohol, but the patient firmly denied drinking even a drop. On top of it, she didn't show any signs of intoxication.
Medical professionals at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania ultimately discovered the 61-year-old woman had an extremely rare medical condition dubbed auto-brewery syndrome or ABS.
Doctors noted that yeast in her bladder fermented sugar to produce high levels of ethanol due to her "poorly controlled" diabetes.
This case is different from other reports of "auto-brewery syndrome", in which yeast in the gut produces ethanol which is fully absorbed into the bloodstream. Individuals in these cases typically feel inebriated and experience mental fogginess along with other symptoms of intoxication.
"I'm happy to demystify the situation, and that's helpful to her because this alcohol abuse diagnosis has been haunting her," said Kenichi Tamama, Medical Director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Clinical Toxicology Laboratory and Associate Professor of Pathology at the UP School of Medicine.
The medical institution said the patient declined to provide updates on her current state of health.