Successful treatment of a massive atenolol and nifedipine overdose with CVVHDF

Manfred Pfaender, P. G. Casetti, M. Azzolini, M. L. Baldi, A. Valli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper was to describe a case of massive atenol and nifedipine poisoning, complicated by the co-existence of liver cirrhosis, where standard therapies (fluid replacement, vasopressors and inotropic agents, insulin, glucagon, calcium and bowel decontamination) were ineffective in restoring an adequate heart rate, blood pressure, renal and intestinal blood flow. This led to consequent anuric renal insufficiency and incipient multiple organ failure syndrome (MOFS). The patient recovered completely after Continuous Veno-Venous Hemo-Dia-Filtration (CVVHDF); this treatment removed atenolol from blood, with predicted clearance levels. The patient was a 45-year old female with a history of hypertension, liver cirrhosis, neurological and psychiatric disorders, with a massive atenolol (69.6 μg/mL) and nifedipine (63 ng/mL) overdose. CVVHDF at an ultrafiltration rate of 1 500 mL/h was started on day 1. From day 2 onwards, as the plasma atenolol concentration decreased, the blood pressure rose at a slow but constant rate. On day 5, there was restoration of an adequate blood pressure, which restored both renal and intestinal function, and also improved MOFS. The standard therapeutic approach was ineffective at eliminating both substances from the blood, and the clinical picture became worse due to incipient MOFS. CVVHDF was used in order to maintain the fluid and electrolyte balance and also to dear the beta blocker from the blood. The clearance kinetics of atenolol were consistent with the expected clearance values, on the basis of a CVVHDF ultrafiltration flow of 1 500 mL/h, which corresponds to a creatinine clearance of about 25 mL/min.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-100
Number of pages4
JournalMinerva Anestesiologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Atenolol
  • Multi organ failure
  • Nifedipine
  • Poisoning
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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