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BMJ Clin Evid. 2011 May 17;2011. pii: 2102.

Organophosphorus poisoning (acute).

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  • 1Medical Toxicology Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.



Acetylcholinesterase inhibition by organophosphorus pesticides or organophosphate nerve agents can cause acute parasympathetic system dysfunction, muscle weakness, seizures, coma, and respiratory failure. Prognosis depends on the dose and relative toxicity of the specific compound, as well as pharmacokinetic factors.


We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for acute organophosphorus poisoning? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).


We found 62 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.


In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: activated charcoal (single or multiple doses), alpha(2) adrenergic receptor agonists, atropine, benzodiazepines, butyrylcholinesterase replacement therapy, cathartics, extracorporeal clearance, gastric lavage, glycopyrronium bromide (glycopyrrolate), ipecacuanha (ipecac), magnesium sulphate, milk or other home remedy immediately after ingestion, N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists, organophosphorus hydrolases, oximes, removing contaminated clothes and washing the poisoned person, and sodium bicarbonate.

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