BACKGROUND: Acetaminophen (APAP) toxicity is commonly encountered in the Emergency Department. Until 2004, treatment consisted of either oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or filtered oral NAC administered intravenously (i.v.). Intravenous acetylcysteine (Acetadote) is a new Food and Drug Administration-approved i.v. formulation of acetylcysteine manufactured by Cumberland Pharmaceuticals in Nashville, Tennessee. Little post-marketing data exists on the effectiveness and safety of i.v. acetylcysteine.
OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the clinical presentations and outcomes of patients treated with i.v. acetylcysteine for APAP toxicity.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of patients treated with i.v. acetylcysteine for APAP ingestion. The primary outcome measures were: adverse reactions to and effectiveness of i.v. acetylcysteine, as defined by elevation of transaminases, liver failure, renal failure, death, and hospital length of stay (LOS). Data collected included: comorbidities, allergies, intentionality, timing and dosing of i.v. acetylcysteine, hospital LOS, transaminases > 1000 IU/L, development of liver failure requiring transplant, development of renal failure requiring hemodialysis, death, and anaphylactoid reactions.
RESULTS: Sixty-four patients met our study criteria. Overall, 16 (25%) patients developed transaminases > 1000 IU/L, 4 (6%) of them died and 2 (3%) received liver transplants. Of the 15 patients (23%) treated within 8 h, none died or developed liver or renal failure, and only 1 developed transient transaminase elevation > 1000 IU/L. In the patients treated outside of 8 h, the median LOS was 3 days, whereas the group treated within 8 h had a median LOS of only 1 day. Six (9%) patients developed anaphylactoid reactions, 2 of whom received the i.v. acetylcysteine bolus over 15 min. Five of these patients were treated pharmacologically and completed treatment, and one had treatment discontinued for undocumented reasons.
CONCLUSION: Intravenous acetylcysteine seemed to be a safe and effective formulation of N-acetylcysteine.
Published In/Presented At
Whyte AJ, Kehrl T, Brooks DE, Katz KD, Sokolowski D. Safety and effectiveness of acetadote for acetaminophen toxicity. J Emerg Med. 2010 Nov;39(5):607-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.05.007. Epub 2008 Nov 20.
Medicine and Health Sciences
Toxicology Division, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine