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Papers of the Week

2022 Sep-Dec

Case Rep Nephrol Dial



More Drug Monitoring and Less CT Scans of the Brain: Gabapentin Overdose in Two Peritoneal Dialysis Patients.


Lehmann K, Diab S, Meyer TM, Kielstein JT, Eden G
Case Rep Nephrol Dial. 2022 Sep-Dec; 12(3):145-149.
PMID: 36518357.


In parallel with the decline of renal excretory function, drug dosing of many drugs becomes more challenging. Finding the right dose is even more difficult if kidney replacement therapy is instituted. This is further aggravated by the fact that even for substances with a narrow therapeutic range, drug monitoring is only rarely offered, let alone advocated. This holds also true for gabapentin, an anticonvulsant drug that is increasingly prescribed for indications such as cancer-related pain, restless legs syndrome, migraine, or uremic pruritus. The drug is excreted unchanged in urine, so plasma clearance of gabapentin is directly proportional to creatinine clearance. Hence, renal impairment reduces gabapentin excretion and increases plasma gabapentin concentrations in a linear fashion. Therefore, the elimination half-life of gabapentin is between 5 and 9 h, in patients with normal renal function but increases to 132 h in patients on dialysis. Epidemiological data from the USRDS underline this problem. About 19% of the 140,899 adult USA patients enrolled in Medicare coverage received gabapentin in 2011. Its use was associated with an increased risk of altered mental status, fall, and fracture. We report 2 patients in which overdose of gabapentin occurred. In 1 patient, severe neurological symptoms prompted an extensive diagnostic work up, while the underlying cause of the clinical presentation was a supra-therapeutic drug level of gabapentin. Consequently, symptoms subsided with the discontinuation of the drug. Indication and drug dose of gabapentin in dialysis patients should be tightly controlled, and drug monitoring used to avoid unintended overdose.