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Intralipid in acute caffeine intoxication: a case report


Caffeine is arguably the most widely used stimulant drug in the world. Here we describe a suicide attempt involving caffeine overdose whereby the patient’s severe intoxication was successfully treated with the prompt infusion of Intralipid. A 19-year-old man was found in an agitated state at home by the volunteer emergency team about 1 h after the intentional ingestion of 40 g of caffeine (tablets). His consciousness decreased rapidly, followed quickly by seizures, and electrocardiographic monitoring showed ventricular fibrillation. Advanced life support maneuvers were started immediately, with the patient defibrillated 10 times and administered 5 mg epinephrine in total and 300 + 150 mg of amiodarone (as well as lidocaine and magnesium sulfate). The cardiac rhythm eventually evolved to asystole, necessitating the intravenous injection of epinephrine to achieve the return of spontaneous circulation. However, critical hemodynamic instability persisted, with the patient’s cardiac rhythm alternating between refractory irregular narrow complex tachycardia and wide complex tachycardia associated with hypotension. In an attempt to restore stability we administered three successive doses of Intralipid (120 + 250 + 100 mg), which successfully prevented a severe cardiovascular collapse due to a supra-lethal plasma caffeine level (>120 mg/L after lipid emulsion). The patient survived without any neurologic complications and was transferred to a psychiatric ward a few days later. The case emphasizes the efficacy of intravenous lipid emulsion in the resuscitation of patients from non-local anesthetic systemic toxicity. Intralipid appears to act initially as a vehicle that carries the stimulant drug away from heart and brain to less well-perfused organs (scavenging mechanism) and then, with a sufficient drop in the caffeine concentration, possibly as a tonic to the depressed heart.

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We gratefully acknowledge all the nursing staff, hospital medical team and everyone who cared for the patient for excellent assistance.

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Correspondence to Luisa Muraro.

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Muraro, L., Longo, L., Geraldini, F. et al. Intralipid in acute caffeine intoxication: a case report. J Anesth 30, 895–899 (2016).

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  • Caffeine
  • Intoxication
  • Intralipid
  • Intravenous lipid emulsion