Cardiovascular alterations heralded by intrathecal baclofen bolus

Carmela Rifici, Giangaetano D'Aleo, Piercataldo D'Aleo, Placido Bramanti, Leopold Saltuari, Markus Kofler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe two patients in whom serious bradycardia and arterial hypotension occurred after a small intrathecal baclofen (ITB) test bolus. Both patients suffered from severe spasticity (one due to brain injury, one due to spinal cord injury). Medical history and diagnostic examinations revealed no previous cardiological problems. Ten minutes following a 50 μg ITB bolus, patient 1 developed bradycardia (58 bpm) and incomplete right branch block, lasting for 3 hours. In patient 2, a 20 μg ITB bolus was followed after 5 minutes by severe bradycardia (30 bpm) and hypotension (60/30 mmHg), without loss of consciousness, lasting for 10 minutes. Exaggerated muscle tone was alleviated in both patients after 2 hours by the applied doses. Neither patient underwent implantation of a permanent pump system, both were continued on oral baclofen. Despite numerous unremarkable repeat cardiological exams, both patients suffered fatal cardiac arrest one and two months later, respectively. Our observations suggest that ITB may herald cardiovascular dysfunction in predisposed patients. Careful cardiological examination before ITB treatment, and close monitoring during ITB testing in particular, is advised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-393
Number of pages5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • cardiovascular alterations
  • Intrathecal baclofen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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