Pediatric Theophylline Toxicity Workup

  • Author: Tracey H Reilly, MD; Chief Editor: Timothy E Corden, MD  more...
 
Updated: Aug 18, 2016
 

Laboratory Studies

Serum theophylline levels should be determined every 2 hours until levels decline and every 4 hours until 2 successive findings are below therapeutic levels.

Check the basic metabolic panel (BMP) for metabolic acidosis and hyperglycemia and determine calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium levels. In the most severe cases, all organ systems may be affected and appropriate laboratory levels, such as creatine kinase and urine myoglobin levels, should be obtained to determine if rhabdomyolysis has occurred.

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Imaging Studies

A radiograph of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder (KUB) rmay reveal radiopacities from undissolved sustained-release tablets or pharmacobezoars. Bead-filled capsules may appear as radiolucencies.

Nonenhanced head CT scans may be obtained if seizures occur.

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Other Tests

Electrocardiography and ECG monitoring may be needed to observe for the development of atrial and ventricular tachydysrhythmias.

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Procedures

See the list below:

  • Endotracheal intubation should be performed as indicated for airway protection in patients with an altered mental status and vomiting, status epilepticus, or hemodynamic instability.
  • Nasogastric tube placement may be required to deliver multidose activated charcoal.
  • Hemodialysis may be required in cases of severe toxicity.
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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Tracey H Reilly, MD Attending Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, United Health Services Hospitals

Tracey H Reilly, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Medical Toxicology, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Christopher P Holstege, MD Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine; Chief, Division of Medical Toxicology, Center of Clinical Toxicology; Medical Director, Blue Ridge Poison Center

Christopher P Holstege, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, Medical Society of Virginia, Society of Toxicology, Wilderness Medical Society, European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Medical Toxicology, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Michael E Mullins, MD Assistant Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine; Attending Physician, Emergency Department, Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Michael E Mullins, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Received stock ownership from Johnson & Johnson for none; Received stock ownership from Savient Pharmaceuticals for none.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey R Tucker, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Disclosure: Received salary from Merck for employment.

Chief Editor

Timothy E Corden, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Co-Director, Policy Core, Injury Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin; Associate Director, PICU, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Timothy E Corden, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Phi Beta Kappa, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Wisconsin Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Halim Hennes, MD, MS Division Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Southwestern Medical School; Director of Emergency Services, Children's Medical Center

Halim Hennes, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Chandra D Aubin, MD Associate Residency Director, Division of Emergency Medicine, Assistant Professor, Washington University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
  1. Barnes PJ. Theophylline. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Oct 15. 188(8):901-6. [Medline].

  2. Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Brooks DE, McMillan N, Schauben JL. 2014 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 32nd Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2015. 53 (10):962-1147. [Medline].

  3. Zhu B, Haghi M, Goud M, Young PM, Traini D. The formulation of a pressurized metered dose inhaler containing theophylline for inhalation. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2015 Aug 30. 76:68-72. [Medline].

  4. Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, et al. 2006 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS). Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007 Dec. 45(8):815-917. [Medline].

  5. Adén U. Methylxanthines during pregnancy and early postnatal life. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2011. 373-89. [Medline].

  6. Hopkins ME, MacKenzie-Ross RV. Case Report: The risks associated with chronic theophylline therapy and measures designed to improve monitoring and management. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016 Mar 5. 17:13. [Medline].

  7. Novelli G, Rossi M, Morabito V, et al. Pediatric acute liver failure with molecular adsorbent recirculating system treatment. Transplant Proc. 2008 Jul-Aug. 40(6):1921-4. [Medline].

  8. Fisher J, Graudins A. Intermittent haemodialysis and sustained low-efficiency dialysis (SLED) for acute theophylline toxicity. J Med Toxicol. 2015 Sep. 11 (3):359-63. [Medline].

  9. Charytan D, Jansen K. Severe metabolic complications from theophylline intoxication. Nephrology (Carlton). 2003 Oct. 8(5):239-242. [Medline].

  10. Shannon MW. Comparative efficacy of hemodialysis and hemoperfusion in severe theophylline intoxication. Acad Emerg Med. 1997 Jul. 4(7):674-8. [Medline].

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