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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 Mar;17(3):219-23.

Complicated delirium in a cancer patient successfully treated with olanzapine.

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1
Community Cancer Care, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.

Abstract

Delirium is common among cancer patients, especially those with advanced disease. Typical treatment involves addressing the underlying cause if possible; eliminating nonessential and/or other drugs that can worsen confusion, manipulating the environment; and administering antipsychotic drugs to control symptoms and agitated behavior, and attempt to clear the patient's sensorium. The newer atypical antipsychotics may have potential in the treatment of delirium and also have the added benefit of causing less akithisia and other extrapyramidal side effects. This is illustrated by the case of a 59-year-old woman with leukemia and pain of unclear etiology who developed a delirium and a moderate to severe extrapyramidal syndrome (EPS) in the setting of escalation of her pain medications and concomitant escalation of prochlorperazine. The patient presented with confusion and moderate to severe cogwheeling rigidity, masked facies, bradykinesia, and tremor. Additionally, the patient had a relatively recent history of subdural hematoma and one seizure. Conservative management including eliminating multiple nonessential medications (including the prochlorperazine); changing her opioid analgesic; providing a 24-hour companion: and administering low doses of haloperidol (0.5 mg-2.0 mg) were not effective in treating the patient's delirium. The patient's EPS was dramatically worse following haloperidol doses. After approximately I week without improvement, the patient was started on olanzapine 5 mg daily with initial improvement but with residual confusion in the evenings and overnight. The dose was titrated up to 10 mg nightly with 2.5 mg as needed during the day. After 3 days on this regimen, the patient's mental status exam was normal and she was discharged home. We discuss the potential utility of this atypical antipsychotic in the palliative care setting.

PMID:
10098365
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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