Methamphetamine Body Stuffers

October 25, 2009, 1:30 pm

★★★½☆

METHAMPHETAMINE BODY STUFFERS: AN OBSERVATIONAL CASE SERIES. Ann Emerg Med 2009 (in press)

Abstract

This important observational case series describes 55 methamphetamine body stuffers whose cases were referred to the Oregon Poison Center for consultation over a 6.5 year period.  Body stuffing was defined as ingestion of free or packaged methamphetamine that was not for recreational purposes nor for bulk transport across a border. Given the limitations of analyzing poison center data (such as referral bias and incomplete data) this study was well done — poison center information was supplemented by hospital charts in many instances.  Some important take-home points:

• There was a relatively high incidence of severe outcomes. Thirteen patients (24%) required intubation for agitation or airway control.

• Of 26 patients who received whole bowel irrigation, only 3 (12%) had documented passage of packages or plastic.

• An initial pulse rate > 120 or temperature > 38.0 C was correlated with severe outcomes

• The only death was in a patient who had an asystolic arrest in the field.

• Initial symptoms occurred within 4 hours of ingestion except in the case of a single patient who was parachuting methamphetamine.

• Attempts to locate ingested packages by ultrasound, plain radiography, or CT were not successful.

Because of its limitations, this study is not the definitive word on methamphetamine body stuffers.  But it is well worth reading.

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