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16 November 2022 : Case report  Sweden

[In Press] Coma, Severe Hypotension, and Pinpoint Pupils After Olanzapine Intoxication in the Intensive Care Unit with Symptom Reversal After Administration of Flumazenil

Unusual or unexpected effect of treatment, Diagnostic / therapeutic accidents, Adverse events of drug therapy

Paul Pålsson ORCID logo1ABDEF, Jolanta Guldberg1BDE, Jenny M. Gustafsson1BDE, Harald Aiff ORCID logo2DEF

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.938387

Am J Case Rep In Press; DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.938387  

Available online: 2022-11-16, In Press, Corrected Proof

Publication in the "In-Press" formula aims at speeding up the public availability of the pending manuscript while waiting for the final publication. The assigned DOI number is active and citable. The availability of the article in the Medline, PubMed and PMC databases as well as Web of Science will be obtained after the final publication according to the journal schedule


Olanzapine is an antipsychotic drug and is used in critical care to treat delirium. There is no known antidote to olanzapine intoxication. Overdosing olanzapine can cause, tremor, bradykinesia, hypotension somnolence, coma, and miosis.
We present the case of a previously healthy 69-year-old man who after routine mitral valve surgery developed pneumonia and severe sepsis requiring several weeks on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. He developed delirium and paranoia and was prescribed olanzapine. After 4 doses, he became hypotensive and nonresponsive and developed pinpoint pupils. The symptoms were reversed minutes after administration of flumazenil. The clinical picture in this case corresponds well with an olanzapine intoxication. No other drugs, such as benzodiazepines or opioids, had been administered that could explain the reaction. Olanzapine intoxication is known to present with hypotension, coma, and miosis. The doses given were normal starting doses for olanzapine in the outpatient setting but much higher than recommended doses in the intensive care setting.
This case illustrates a risk for severe adverse effects, even within normal prescription range, when olanzapine is used in the intensive care setting. Finally, it is intriguing that the symptoms were reversed after administration of flumazenil, a selective competitive antagonist of the GABA receptor. Olanzapine mainly effects dopamine, serotonin, a1-adrenergic, histamine, and muscarinic receptors, but a low affinity to GABA and benzodiazepine sites can perhaps explain the observed effect.

Keywords: Drug Overdose; Flumazenil; Olanzapine


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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923