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Keywords:

  • Dialysis;
  • lithium intoxication;
  • risk factors;
  • hyponatremia

Abstract

Severe lithium poisoning is a frequent condition in the intoxicated intensive care unit population. Dialysis is the treatment of choice, but no clinical markers predicting higher requirement for dialysis have been identified to date. We analyze the characteristics of lithium overdose patients needing dialysis to improve lithium clearance, and identify the ones associated with higher dialysis requirement. This is an observational, retrospective study of 14 patients with lithium poisoning admitted from 2004 to 2009. Median age was 41.8 ± 16.1 years. Poisonings were acute in 7.1%, acute-on-chronic in 64.28%, and chronic in 28.5% of cases. Comparing clinical and biochemical data in patients requiring more than one dialysis session with those requiring only one session, the univariate analysis showed differences at admission in creatinine clearance (40.5 ± 23 vs. 73.3 ± 24.9 mL/min, P = 0.025), white blood cells (17528 ± 3530 vs. 11580 ± 3360 cells/L, P = 0.007), and blood sodium concentration (134.8 ± 5.9 vs. 141.8 ± 8.4 mmol/L, P=0.035). We measured the degree of association between the number of sessions and the variables with partial correlations. High lithium levels (P = 0.006, r = 0.69), low creatinine clearance (P = 0.04, r = −0.55), and low blood sodium concentration (P = 0.024, r = −0.59) were associated with a greater number of dialysis sessions. The correlation remained significant for blood sodium concentration (P = 0.016, r = −0.67) after adjustment for creatinine clearance and initial lithium levels. Presence on admission of low creatinine clearance, low blood sodium concentration, and/or high lithium levels correlated with a higher number of dialysis sessions in severe lithium poisoning. These factors, especially low blood sodium concentration, are associated with higher dialysis requirements in severe lithium intoxication.