Flumazenil therapy for a gabapentin-induced coma: a case report

M. Masciullo, F. Pichiorri, G. Scivoletto, C. Foti, M. Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Spasticity and neuropathic pain are common in patients after spinal cord injury and negatively affect patients’ quality of life. Gabapentin and baclofen are frequently used to treat these conditions. We present a flumazenil-reversed gabapentin-induced coma case, which, to our knowledge, is the second one described in scientific literature. Case presentation: A 70-year-old Caucasian man was admitted to our neurorehabilitation ward following a fall with cervical trauma that resulted in immediate tetraplegia. During his stay, he suffered from lower limb pain, both neuropathic and due to severe spasticity. Gradual baclofen and gabapentin administration was prescribed, with reduction in both pain and spasticity. One morning, the patient was found unresponsive, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3. Head computerized tomography, electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, vital signs, blood tests, breathing, and blood oxygenation were normal. Renal and liver failure were ruled out. Intravenous 0.25 mg of flumazenil (Anexate) was administered, resulting in complete neurocognitive recovery with a Glasgow Coma Score of 15. Discussion and conclusions: This case report highlights the importance of the individual response to certain pharmacological agents and suggests that further studies need to be conducted both on flumazenil and gabapentin pharmacodynamics to better understand their molecular–receptor activity, and on possible multiple flumazenil mechanisms of action, beyond its classical strict benzodiazepine antagonist action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number242
JournalJournal of Medical Case Reports
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Baclofen
  • Case report
  • Flumazenil
  • Gabapentin
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Spasticity
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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