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S Afr Med J. 2000 Jan;90(1):68-72.

Extraordinary arousal from semi-comatose state on zolpidem. A case report.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Southern Africa, Medunsa.


A young semi-comatose male patient was investigated using 99mTc hexamethyl-propylene amine oxime (99mTc HMPAO) brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) before and after administration of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) agonist zolpidem. It was observed that 15 minutes after application of the drug the patient awoke from his semi-comatose condition and remained awake for the next 3-4 hours. When drug action subsided he returned to his semi-comatose state. Brain SPECT before drug application showed large hypo-active areas in certain parts of the brain. Brain SPECT after drug application showed a generalised cortical activation relative to the cerebellum and a marked and amplified activation of the areas that were hypo-active before drug application.

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