Toxicology

SimWars

This post is part of a series developed in preparation for participation in ACEP SimWars. It contains a review of several prominent emergency medicine topics which may be relevant for board preparation. Unless otherwise cited, content is based on HippoEM videos.

Drugs of Abuse

Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice, K2)

  • Symptoms: anxiety, paranoia, tachycardia
  • Unique symptoms compared to traditional cannabinoids: psychosis, seizure, diaphoresis

Hallucinogenic amphetamines (ecstasy, MDMA)

  • Increased serotonergic activity
  • Management: supportive care (IVF, cooling for hyperthermia), benzodiazepines

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

  • Symptoms: euphoria, hypersexuality, rapid onset/clearance
  • Signs: bradycardia, bradypnea, coma with rapid awakening
  • Management: intubation for depressed GCS
  • Withdrawal: symptoms and treatment identical to ethanol withdrawal, consider baclofen

Cathinone (bath salts)

  • Symptoms: hallucinations
  • Signs: tachycardia, hypertension, tremor, mydriasis, diaphoresis, hyperthermia, bruxism
  • Management: benzodiazepines, consider paralysis, avoid beta-blockers

Cocaine

  • MOA: increase catecholamines, Na-channel blockade
  • Toxicity: HTN, tachycardia, hyperthermia, rhabdomyolysis, MI, seizure, VT
  • Management: benzodiazepines, cooling, anti-hypertensives (nitrate, CCB, not B-blocker)

Amphetamine

  • Toxicity: HTN, tachycardia, hyperthermia, rhabdomyolysis, intracranial hemorrhage
  • Management: same as cocaine

Benzodiazepines

  • Toxicity: sedation, respiratory depression
  • Management: consider flumazenil 0.2mg IV q1min x1-5

Toxic Alcohols

  • Overview
    • Toxic metabolites produced by alcohol dehydrogenase which can be inhibited by ethanol or fomepizole
    • Fomepizole: 15mg/kg loading dose, 10mg/kg q12h x4 doses then 15mg/kg q12h (stimulates own metabolism); if dialysis, q4h
  • Diagnosis: osmolar gap (>14), 2Na + Glu/18 + BUN/2.8 + EtOH/4.6
  • Treatment
    • ADH inhibition
    • HCO3
    • Hemodialysis
    • Supportive care
    • Hypoglycemia: dextrose

Methanol

  • Component of antifreeze, windshield washer fluid
  • Metabolite formic acid which causes acidosis and blindness
  • Can give folate

Ethylene glycol

  • Component of antifreeze, automobile coolants, de-icing agents
  • Metabolite oxalic acid which precipitates calcium oxalate crystals and causes acute renal failure
  • Can give thiamine (100mg q6h), pyridoxine (500mg q6h), Mg

Isopropanol

  • Component of rubbing alcohol
  • Metabolite acetone which does not cause acidosis

Analgesics

Acetaminophen

  • Metabolism: glucoronidation, CYP450
    • CYP450 pathway produces toxic metabolite when glucoronidation overwhelmed
    • In pediatrics, sulfation process protective
  • Toxic dose: >150mg/kg, >3g/day
  • Injury: liver (centrilobular necrosis), renal, pancreatic
  • Increased risk: induced CYP450 (chronic EtOH, rifampin, anti-epileptics)
  • Nomogram: applicable to single ingestion at 4-hours
  • Labs: PT/INR, LFT, lipase, chemistry
  • Management: NAC
    • PO: 140mg/kg, 70mg/kg q4h
    • IV: 150mg/kg, 50mg/kg over 4h, 100mg/kg over 16h

NSAID

  • Symptoms
    • Acute: GI upset, low risk UGIB
    • Acute massive: acidosis, coma, seizures
    • Chronic: UGIB, nephropathy, agranulocytosis

Aspirin

  • Signs: tachycardia, hyperthermia, tachypnea/hyperpnea
  • Severe: cerebral and pulmonary edema, CNS hypoglycemia
  • Labs: primary respiratory alkalosis with metabolic acidosis
  • Management
    • Hypoglycemia (CNS) treatment
    • Bicarbonate infusion (urine pH > 8)
    • Hemodialysis for pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, renal failure, acidemia, level >100mg/dL (acute) or > 60mg/dL (chronic)

Opioids

  • Symptoms: respiratory depression, miosis
  • Management: naloxone 0.04mg, 0.4mg, 2mg
  • Withdrawal: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, piloerection
    • Neonates: seizure, death
  • Complications with specific agents:
    • Meperidine, tramadol: seizures
    • Methadone: QT prolongation

Anesthetics

Lidocaine

  • Mechanism: Na-channel blockade
  • Types:
    • Ester (one “i”): cocaine, procaine, benzocaine
    • Amide (two “i”): lidocaine, bupivacaine
  • Toxicity
    • Dose: 4mg/kg, 7mg/kg with epinephrine
    • CNS: perioral numbness, slurred speech, seizure
    • CV: VT, VF, AV block
    • Methemoglobinemia: methylene blue
  • Treatment
    • Seizure management
    • Bicarbonate for dysrhythmia
    • Intralipid

Anti-cholinergics

Sympathetic Parasympathetic
Mydriasis Miosis
Bronchodilation Bronchospasm/bronchorrhea
Tachycardia Bradycardia
Urinary retention Urinary incontinence
Hyperglycemia Salivation/lacrimation
Diaphoresis Increased GI motility
  • Examples
    • Atropine
    • Anti-histamine
    • TCA
    • Phenothiazines
    • Jimson weed
  • Symptoms
    • Peripheral: mydriasis, anhidrosis, flushing, hyperthermia, ileus, dry mucous membranes, AUR
    • Central: agitation (passive), delirium, coma, seizure
  • Treatment
    • Supportive
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Theoretically physostigmine
      • Avoid in seizure, QRS-widening, reactive airway disease
      • Possible diagnostic use

Drugs causing miosis (COPS)

  • C: cholinergics
  • O: opioids
  • P: phenothiazines
  • S: sedatives

Drugs causing QT-prolongation

  • Examples:
    • Phenothiazines
    • Anti-arrhythmics
    • Butyrophenones (ex. haloperidol)
    • Macrolides
    • Fluoroquinolones
    • Methadone
    • Ondansetron
    • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Treatment
    • Magnesium sulfate 2g IV over 1min
    • Overdrive pacing (transcutaneous, transvenous if not captured)
    • Consider isoproterenol (pharmacologic overdrive)

Serotonin syndrome

  • Cause: exposure to serotonergic agent(s)
  • Symptoms: agitation, mydriasis, tremor/clonus in lower extremities, tachycardia, hyperthermia
  • Management
    • Supportive care (IVF, vasopressors)
    • Cooling measures and paralysis for hyperthermia
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Cyproheptadine 12mg PO/NG
    • Dexmedetomidine infusion

Anti-emetics

Phenothiazines

  • Examples: compazine (prochlorperazine), phenergan (promethazine)
  • MOA: DA-antagonist
  • AE: sedation, dystonia, parkinsonism
  • Toxicity: seizure, VT, hypotension (TCA-like)

5-HT3 antagonists

  • Examples: zofran (ondansetron), granisetron
  • Toxicity: QT-prolongation

Anti-hypertensives

Calcium channel blockers

  • Toxicity: hypotension, bradycardia, AV blockade, hyperglycemia
  • Management
    • Atropine: 0.5mg IV q2-3min
    • Glucagon: 5mg IV q10min x2 (with anti-emetic)
    • IVF, vasopressors (norepinephrine, epinephrine)
    • Calcium: 3g gluconate, 1-3g chloride
    • High-dose insulin: 1 unit/kg, monitor hypoglycemia/hypokalemia
    • Intralipid: 1.5mL/kg bolus then 0.25mL/kg/minute
    • GI decontamination
    • Pacing, IABP, ECMO

Beta blockers

  • Toxicity: similar to CCB, hypoglycemia
  • Management: similar to CCB, calcium ineffective

Digoxin (foxglove, oleander)

  • MOA: inhibits Na/K ATPase, increases intracellular calcium (inotropic)
  • Toxicity
    • CV: bradycardia, hypotension
    • ECG: bidirectional VT, PVC, scooped ST-segment
    • CNS: agitation, psychosis
    • Visual: yellow-green vision, halo
    • Metabolic: hyperkalemia (acute), hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia
  • Treatment
    • GI decontamination
    • Atropine
    • Transcutaneous pacing (avoid transvenous, irritable myocardium)
    • Digibind
    • Avoid calcium

Clonidine

  • Toxicity: bradycardia, hypotension, opioid mimic (miosis, lethargy, respiratory depression)
  • Management: supportive care, stimulation for respiratory depression, atropine

Sodium-channel blockers

  • Drugs
    • TCA
    • Diphenhydramine
    • Procainamide
    • Carbamazepine
  • ECG
    • QRS prolongation
    • Prominent “R” in aVR
    • RAD
  • Treatment
    • Sodium bicarbonate

Anti-hyperglycemics

Sulfonylurea

  • Symptoms: recurrent severe hypoglycemia
  • Management: octreotide 50-75mcg SQ/IM q6h

Other agents that cause hypoglycemia

  • EtOH
  • B-blocker
  • Quinine
  • Salicylate

Environmental

Carbon monoxide

  • Source: combustion (gas heater, indoor barbeque)
  • Toxicity
    • General: influenza-like, multiple proximate affected individuals
    • GI: abdominal pain, nausea
    • CNS: headache, dizziness, confusion, ataxia, seizure
    • CV: palpitations, arrhythmia, hypotension, MI
  • Treatment
    • T½: RA 6h, NRB 1h, 3atm 0.5h
    • Hyperbaric: neuro deficit, syncope, pregnancy, CV toxicity

Cyanide

  • Mechanism: inhibits oxidative phosphorylation
  • Source: structural fire (wool, silk)
  • Symptoms: syncope, seizure, coma, cardiovascular collapse
  • Detection: severe lactic acidosis, “arterialization” of venous blood, “bitter almond” odor
  • Treatment
    • Hydroxycobalamin (Cyanokit): 5g IV, may repeat x1
    • Sodium thiosulfate 12.5g IV

Methemoglobinemia

  • Mechanism: Fe2+ converted to Fe3+, “functional anemia”
  • Source: nitrite (food), topical/local anesthetics, pyridium, dapsone, reglan
  • Detection: normal PaO2, SpO2 85% unresponsive to supplemental oxygen, ABG with co-oximetry
  • Management: methylene blue 1-2mg/kg IV if symptomatic or MetHb >25%
    • Contraindicated in G6PD deficiency, treat with exchange transfusion or HBO

Hydrogen Sulfide

  • Source: industrial, sulfur spring, sewer
  • Detection: “rotten egg” odor
  • Management: remove from source, supportive care

Hydrocarbon

  • Source: huffing canisters
  • Toxicity: VT/VF from myocardial sensitization
  • Management: beta-blockade
  • Complications: harmless if ingested, aspiration leads to ARDS

Hydrofluoric acid

  • Source: rust remover, wheel cleaner, glass etching
  • Symptoms: pain-out-of-proportion, delayed onset
  • Toxicity: Hypocalcemia (QTc prolongation, VT/VF/TdP), hyperkalemia, hypomagnesemia
  • Management: analgesia, topical calcium gluconate gel, intravenous calcium for large BSA involvement

Alkaline ingestion

  • Symptoms: esophageal perforation, delayed stricture

Acid ingestion

  • Symptoms: gastric perforation (rare), delayed gastric outlet obstruction
  • Findings: metabolic acidosis

Botulism

  • Sources
    • Adult: ingested preformed toxin
    • Infants: ingested spores (achlorhydric), in vivo toxin production
    • Wound: black tar heroin
  • Symptoms: dysphagia, ptosis, diplopia, respiratory failure, descending paralysis
    • Infants: constipation, floppy
  • Management: supportive care, intubation
    • Adults: Anti-toxin from CDC or local Department of Health
    • Infants: 100mg/kg IV x 1 dose (BabyBIG)

Heavy Metals

Iron

  • Dose
    • Ferrous sulfate: 20% elemental iron
    • Toxic: >20mg/kg
    • Lethal: >60mg/kg (1 tablet 325mg ferrous sulfate per kilogram)
  • Toxicity: corrosive, anti-coagulant, hepatotoxic
  • Course
    • Stage I: GI effects, emesis with hematemesis
    • Stage II: Quiescent
    • Stage III: Systemic, multi-organ system dysfunction
    • Stage IV: Resolution, gastric scarring and outlet obstruction
  • Workup
    • CBC/BMP
    • LFT
    • Lactate
    • Fe level
    • KUB (if positive consider WBI)
  • Treatment
    • Decontamination: no activated charcoal, consider WBI
    • Deferoxamine: 15mg/kg/hr

Lead

  • Source: paint, batteries
  • Toxicity
    • Acute: headache, encephalopathy, seizure
    • Chronic: malaise, weight loss, arthralgia, anemia (basophilic stippling)
  • Diagnosis: lead level, wrist drop
  • Management: chelation (BAL, EDTA, DMSA) for level >50ug/dL or asymptomatic >70ug/dL

Lithium

  • Source: iatrogenic, drug-drug interaction
  • Symptoms
    • GI: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea
    • CNS: tremor, coma
    • CV: TWI, QT-prolongation
  • Management
    • IVF, encourage renal elimination
    • Hemodialysis

Other Drugs

Disulfuram

  • MOA: aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor
  • Symptoms: increased acetaldehyde leads to flushing, headache, nausea/vomiting, tachycardia, hypotension
  • Management: antihistamine, IVF, vasopressors
  • Other agents causing disulfuram-like reaction: metronidazole, INH, sulfonylurea

Isoniazid

  • Toxicity: seizure
  • Management: pyridoxine 5g IV, repeat x1

Theophyline

  • Toxicity: seizure
  • Management
    • Decontamination: AC
    • Seizures: benzodiazepines
    • Tachyarrhythmia (commonly MAT): beta-blockade
    • Hemodialysis: acute > 100mg/L, chronic >30mg/L

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

  • Toxicity: food/drug interaction
  • Symptoms: tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, agitation
  • Management: cooling, IVF, management of hyper/hypotension

Phenytoin

  • Oral: cerebellar dysfunction (ataxia), CNS depression
  • IV: hypotension (suspension contains propylene glycol)

Nutritional Supplements

  • Fat-soluble vitamins
    • A: benign intracranial hypertension
    • D: hypercalcemia

Envenomations

Snake

  • Crotalid (rattle), elapidae (coral)
  • Symptoms
    • Local reaction: edema, hemorrhagic bullae
    • Systemic: perioral numbness, fasciculations
    • Severe: thrombocytopenia, decreased fibrinogen
  • Management: Crofab 5 vials

Spider

  • Black widow
    • Identification: hourglass on abdomen
    • Symptoms: painful bite, target-appearance, rarely “acute abdomen”
    • Management: analgesia, anti-venom, tetanus
  • Brown recluse
    • Identification: violin shape on head
    • Geography: Southeast, Midwest
    • Symptoms: painless bite, local reaction, delayed healing with eschar
    • Rare: hemolysis, DIC, shock
    • Management: supportive care, antibiotics if superinfected, consider dapsone, tetanus

Scorpion (Centruroides)

  • Geography: Arizona
  • Symptoms
    • Autonomic: HTN, tachycardia, diaphoresis
    • CNS: opsoclonus, slurred speech, dysphagia
  • Management: anti-venom, supportive care, analgesia, tetanus

Marine

  • Ciguatera
    • Source: toxin bioconcentrated in fish
    • Symptoms: gastroenteritis, hot/cold-reversal, “loose teeth” sensation
    • Management: mannitol
  • Scombroid
    • Source: poorly-refrigerated fish, histamine-like
    • Symptoms: flushing trunk/face (distinguish from allergic reaction), gastroenteritis
    • Management: supportive care, IVF, anti-histamine, bronchodilators if indicated
  • Paralytic shellfish poisoning
    • Source: bivalve
    • Symptoms: gastroenteritis, paralysis
    • Management: supportive, intubation
  • Jellyfish and Cnidaria
    • Source: nematocyst
    • Symptoms: burning pain, pruritus
    • Severe: Irakundji syndrome (HTN, pulmonary edema)
    • Management: supportive, analgesia, box jellyfish antidote, consider vinegar
  • Stingray
    • Source: heat-labile toxin
    • Management: affected area in warm water, tetanus, ciprofloxacin (Vibrio)

Mushrooms

  • Amanita: centrilobular necrosis, similar to acetaminophen
  • Gyronatum: similar to INH (seizure and treatment), may cause methemoglobinemia
  • Symptoms: muscarinic (SLUDGE)
    • Early onset generally benign, delayed onset (>6h) suggests more serious course
  • Management: atropine, glycopyrrolate, IVF

Pesticides

  • Organophosphate: irreversible
  • Carbamate: reversible
  • Symptoms: muscarinic (SLUDGE)
  • Treatment: atropine 2-6mg IV double q5min to control secretions, pralidoxime (for organophosphates)

Strychnine

  • Source: rodenticide
  • Symptoms: myoclonus, opisthotonus, agitation
  • Management: benzodiazepines, airway protection, paralysis