Review Article

Update on Phenobarbital for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome in Intensive Care

Rukma Parthvi* and Parker Agne

Published: 22 July, 2019 | Volume 4 - Issue 1 | Pages: 036-039

Alcohol abuse is a global health problem. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) ranges from mild to severe symptoms that can lead to fatal delirium tremens requiring ICU admission and incurring high health care cost as high as $20,000 a month. The latest published reports suggest that phenobarbital is a promising therapeutic option for management of AWS as evidenced by less ICU admissions, length of stay in hospital, use of adjunctive agents, health care costs and attention from the nursing staff than that of patients treated with commonly used benzodiazepines such as lorazepam, diazepam, and chlordiazepoxide. Phenobarbital is beneficial for the treatment of AWS, both in the emergency and inpatient settings and both as monotherapy or in conjunction with benzodiazepines. It is safe for patients without severe hepatic impairment, has a better mechanism of action and longer half-life than benzodiazepines, and leads to less delirium and agitation. Powered randomized controlled trials with large populations are required, yet phenobarbital can be used to safely to treat AWS.

Read Full Article HTML DOI: 10.29328/journal.jcicm.1001023 Cite this Article Read Full Article PDF


Phenobarbital; Alcohol; Withdrawal; Benzodiazepine; Delirium tremens


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