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Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Oct;20(10):1058-63.

Acetaminophen overdose: a 48-hour intravenous N-acetylcysteine treatment protocol.

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1
Section of Trauma and Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

To determine the safety and efficacy of a 48-hour IV N-acetylcysteine (IV NAC) treatment protocol for acute acetaminophen overdose.

DESIGN:

Nonrandomized trial open to all eligible patients.

SETTING:

Multicenter; hospitals included moderate- and high-volume private, university, and municipal hospitals in urban and suburban settings.

TYPE OF PARTICIPANTS:

Two hundred twenty-three patients were entered. Of these, 179 met inclusion criteria: acute acetaminophen overdose, plasma acetaminophen concentration above the treatment nomogram line, treatment with IV NAC according to the protocol, and sufficient data to determine outcome.

INTERVENTIONS:

IV NAC treatment consisted of a loading dose of 140 mg/kg followed by 12 doses of 70 mg/kg every four hours.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Patients were grouped for analysis according to risk group based on the initial plasma acetaminophen concentration. Hepatotoxicity (aspartate aminotransferase or alanine aminotransferase of more than 1,000 IU/L) developed in 10% (five of 50) of patients at "probable risk" when IV NAC was started within ten hours of acetaminophen ingestion and in 27.1% (23 of 85) when therapy was begun after ten to 24 hours. Among "high-risk" patients first treated 16 to 24 hours after overdose, hepatotoxicity occurred in 57.9% (11 of 19). There were two deaths (two of 179, 1.1%). Adverse reactions resulting from NAC occurred in 32 of 223 cases (14.3%), consisting in 29 of 32 patients (91% of reactions) of transient, patchy, skin erythema or mild urticaria during the loading dose that did not require discontinuation of therapy.

CONCLUSION:

This 48-hour IV NAC protocol is safe and effective antidotal therapy for acetaminophen overdose. Based on available data, it is equal to 72-hour oral and 20-hour IV treatment protocols when started early and superior to the 20-hour IV regimen when treatment is delayed. Further study will be required to determine its relative efficacy in the high-risk patient treated very late.

PMID:
1928874
DOI:
10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81352-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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