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Outcome after injections of crushed tablets in intravenous drug abusers in the Helsinki University C

Outcome after injections of crushed tablets in intravenous drug abusers in the Helsinki University C

  1. ThirdEyeFloond
    Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2009 Jun;37(6):704-11. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

    Partanen TA, Vikatmaa P, Tukiainen E, Lepäntalo M, Vuola J.


    OBJECTIVE: To retrospectively analyse injection drug users (IDUs) with complications after intra- or extra-vasal administration of dissolved tablets. DESIGN: A retrospective study. METHODS: The hospital discharge registers were used to identify the patients admitted in different clinics in Helsinki University Central Hospital during 2000-2005. The patient demographics and social background were clarified. The type of the crushed drugs, the injection route and the timing of administration were registered. Medical interventions, examinations and surgical procedures were recorded. RESULTS: Between January 2000 and December 2005, 24 patients had been treated on 30 occasions for manifestations caused by injecting crushed tablets. The main types of manifestations were acute limb ischaemia (16 patients) and infection (eight patients), and eight cases led to distal or proximal amputations. Men (19 of 24) were affected more frequently than were women (5 of 24). Their ages ranged between 20 and 39 years (mean: 26 years). All the patients had a previous history of intravenous drug abuse, and they lived in Greater Helsinki region. The incidence of seropositivity for hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was 33% (n=8), 88% (n=21) and 4% (n=1), respectively. The time between injection and presentation to the Emergency Department varied between 3h and 10 days (mean: 62 h). Buprenorphine was the most commonly used drug in 10 of the 24 patients, and benzodiazepine derivatives were also used in 11 of the 24 patients. CONCLUSIONS: Intra- or extra-vasal administration of dissolved tablets leads to serious consequences, including limb amputations. Vascular and soft-tissue imaging may be helpful in the diagnosis. Prompt drainage of any abscess and fasciotomies for compartment syndrome treatment are essential. Controversy exists over the best medical therapy.