Drug poisoning is a significant source of morbidity, mortality and health care expenditure worldwide. Lithium, methanol, ethylene glycol and salicylates are the most important ones, included in the list of poisons, that may require extracorporeal depuration. Lithium is the cornerstone of treatment for bipolar disorders, but it has a narrow therapeutic window. The therapeutic range is 0.6-1.2 mEq/L and toxicity manifestations begin to appear as soon as serum levels exceed 1.5 mEq/L. Severe toxicity can be observed when plasma levels are more than 3.5 mEq/L. Lithium poisoning can be life threatening and extracorporeal renal replacement therapies can reverse toxic symptoms. Currently, conventional intermittent hemodialysis (IHD) is the preferred extracorporeal treatment modality. Preliminary data with prolonged intermittent renal replacement (PIRRT) therapies – hybrid forms of renal replacement therapy (RRT) such as sustained low efficiency dialysis (SLED) – seem to justify their role as potential alternative to conventional IHD. Indeed, SLED allows rapid and effective lithium removal with resolution of symptoms, also minimizing rebound phenomenon.
Keywords: lithium, drug toxicity, dialysis, sustained low efficiency dialysis (SLED)