Clinical and Forensic Aspects of Pharmacobezoars

Author(s): Francisco Basílio*, Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira*

Journal Name: Current Drug Research Reviews
(Formerly Current Drug Abuse Reviews)

Volume 12 , Issue 2 , 2020

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: Pharmacobezoars are specific types of bezoars formed when medicines, such as tablets, suspensions, and/or drug delivery systems, aggregate and may cause death by occluding airways with tenacious material or by eluting drugs resulting in toxic or lethal blood concentrations.

Objective: This work aims to fully review the state-of-the-art regarding pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and other relevant clinical and forensic features of pharmacobezoars.

Results: Patients of a wide range of ages and of both sexes present with signs and symptoms of intoxications or more commonly gastrointestinal obstructions. The exact mechanisms of pharmacobezoar formation are unknown but are likely multifactorial. The diagnosis and treatment depend on the gastrointestinal segment affected and should be personalized to the medication and the underlying factor. A good and complete history, physical examination, image tests, upper endoscopy, and surgery through laparotomy of the lower tract are useful for diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusion: Pharmacobezoars are rarely seen in clinical and forensic practice. They are related to controlled or immediate-release formulations, liquid, or non-digestible substances, in normal or altered digestive motility/anatomy tract, and in overdoses or therapeutic doses, and should be suspected in the presence of risk factors or patients taking drugs which may form pharmacobezoars.

Keywords: Pharmacobezoar, pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, clinical and forensic diagnosis, treatment, laparotomy.

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Article Details

Year: 2020
Page: [118 - 130]
Pages: 13
DOI: 10.2174/2589977512666200217094018
Price: $65

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