Successful use of the two-tube approach for the treatment of phenobarbital poisoning without hemodialysis

Atsushi Tanikawa, Satoshi Seki, Takuya Yasuda, Eiju Hasegawa

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Half-life of the antipsychotic vegetamin is very long, partially due to the presence of phenobarbital, and mortality due to phenobarbital poisoning is high. Here, we present the case of a 22-year-old female admitted to the emergency department with disturbed consciousness due to vegetamin overdose. Her blood phenobarbital level was elevated to 123 μg/ml. Phenobarbital undergoes enterohepatic circulation, and its retention in the intestine causes its blood levels to remain sustained. The utility of hemodialysis for drug poisoning has been previously reported; however, its efficiency is not yet established and its efficacy is low for drugs with long half-lives such as phenobarbital. Therefore, we performed a two-tube approach to adsorb phenobarbital in the intestines with activated charcoal delivered via a gastric tube and to remove the phenobarbital-adsorbed activated charcoal using whole bowel irrigation via an ileus tube 2 h later. The patient successfully eliminated the charcoal via stool, the blood phenobarbital level decreased drastically without hemodialysis, and the clinical course improved. We propose that this two-tube approach is suitable for treatment of poisoning with drugs that undergo enterohepatic circulation and have long half-lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1809.e1-1809.e3
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sept


  • Active charcoal
  • Hemodialysis
  • Ileus tube
  • Phenobarbital poisoning


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