Patient Outcomes Associated With Phenobarbital Use With or Without Benzodiazepines for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: A Systematic Review.
Hosp Pharm. 2017 Oct;52(9):607-616
Authors: Hammond DA, Rowe JM, Wong A, Wiley TL, Lee KC, Kane-Gill SL
Purpose: Benzodiazepines are the drug of choice for alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS); however, phenobarbital is an alternative agent used with or without concomitant benzodiazepine therapy. In this systematic review, we evaluate patient outcomes with phenobarbital for AWS. Methods: Medline, Cochrane Library, and Scopus were searched from 1950 through February 2017 for controlled trials and observational studies using ["phenobarbital" or "barbiturate"] and ["alcohol withdrawal" or "delirium tremens."] Risk of bias was assessed using tools recommended by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Results: From 294 nonduplicative articles, 4 controlled trials and 5 observational studies (n = 720) for AWS of any severity were included. Studies were of good quality (n = 2), fair (n = 4), and poor (n = 3). In 6 studies describing phenobarbital without concomitant benzodiazepine therapy, phenobarbital decreased AWS symptoms (P < .00001) and displayed similar rates of treatment failure versus comparator therapies (38% vs 29%). A study with 2 cohorts showed similar rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admission (phenobarbital: 16% and 9% vs benzodiazepine: 14%) and hospital length of stay (phenobarbital: 5.85 and 5.30 days vs benzodiazepine: 6.64 days). In 4 studies describing phenobarbital with concomitant benzodiazepine therapy, phenobarbital groups had similar ICU admission rates (8% vs 25%), decreased mechanical ventilation (21.9% vs 47.3%), decreased benzodiazepine requirements by 50% to 90%, and similar ICU and hospital lengths of stay and AWS symptom resolution versus comparator groups. Adverse effects with phenobarbital, including dizziness and drowsiness, rarely occurred. Conclusion: Phenobarbital, with or without concomitant benzodiazepines, may provide similar or improved outcomes when compared with alternative therapies, including benzodiazepines alone.
PMID: 29276297 [PubMed - in process]