A massive, near-fatal cocaine intoxication in a body-stuffer. Case report and review of the literature.
The last decade an increase has been seen in drug smuggling. Body-packing and body-stuffing are the terms used for intracorporeal concealment of illicit drugs (mainly cocaine and heroine, but sometimes also amphetamines and cannabinoids). These body-packets are especially prone to rupture. In order to avoid systemic cocaine toxicity, which can involve nearly every organ and therefore nearly every subspecialty of medicine urgent diagnosis is necessary. Obtaining a detailed history remains crucial. Further clues to diagnosis are given by the urinary drug concentrations and the benzoylecgonine/cocaine ratio in urine. Plain abdominal films, CT and contrast studies of the bowel can be helpful in identifying the package but are of limited value. In addition to activated charcoal, polyethylene glycol-electrolyte lavage solution, enteral feeding and laxatives (not paraffin) can be used to eliminate the body-package by enhancing bowel transit. Alkalinisation of gastric fluids enhances hydrolysis to cocaine's major inactive metabolite benzoylecgonine. If the package fails to progress through the gut or if mechanical obstruction occurs surgical removal is indicated. In no way endoscopic removal of the package should be attempted. Systemic symptoms should be treated by blocking the sympathetic overreactivity; this can be done with diazepam (Valium), labetalol (Trandate) or esmolol. Flumazenil (Anexate), lidocaine (Xylocaine) and pure beta-blockers like propranolol (Inderal) are to be avoided.
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