Take Home Points
- Baclofen withdrawal is a rare complication of intrathecal baclofen pumps. It’s presentation mimics sepsis and alcohol withdrawal and is characterized by hemodynamic instability, hyperthermia, increased spasticity, confusion, altered mental status and seizures. Patients can develop rhabdo from the spasticity and, eventually, can develop multi system organ dysfunction.
- Treating baclofen withdrawal with oral baclofen is unlikely to work even at large oral doses because only a tiny amount gets into the CSF where it needs to act for withdrawal to be treated
- Baclofen withdrawal can be emergently treated with increasing benzodiazepine doses, propofol infusions and baclofen administered via a lumbar puncture. Ultimately, these patients all need consultation with either neurosurgery or interventional pain management to interrogate the device and surgically correct the issue.
EM: RAP November 2015: Lin Sessions Intrathecal Pumps
REBEL EM: Baclofen Withdrawal
Chidester S, Smith S. Baclofen pump complications. The NYS Poison Centers Toxicology Letter 2011; 16(4): 1-12. Link
Ross J et al. Acute Intrathecal Baclofen Withdrawal: A Brief Review of Treatment Options. Neurocrit Care. 2011;14(1):103-108. PMID: 20717751
Stetkarova I et al. Procedure- and device-related complications of intrathecal baclofen administration for management of adult muscle hypertonia: a review. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2010;24(7):609-619. PMID: 20233964
Shirley KW et al. Intrathecal baclofen overdose and withdrawal. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2006;22(4):258-261. PMID: 16651918