Successful haemofiltration therapy in severe phenobarbital overdose

Elizabeth Wei Tan, Maximilian Moser, Graeme Duke


In the 19th century, barbiturates were first-line treatment as hypnotic and anticonvulsants, then gradually replaced by agents with a safer clinical profile. However, its ongoing use in Australian veterinary medicine and steadfast prescriptions in developing countries/our migrant population, still contributes to overdoses.

We present a case of a middle-aged man with a life-threatening phenobarbital overdose. Haemofiltration was trialled, causing a rapid fall in phenobarbital levels and a speedy recovery. Through a review of the literature, treatment options of barbiturate overdose presentations will be discussed. It is imperative clinicians are aware of barbiturate’s mechanism and its enhanced elimination through extracorporeal treatment.
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