Treatment of insulin poisoning: A 100-year review

Link to article at PubMed

Diabet Med. 2023 Mar 2:e15076. doi: 10.1111/dme.15076. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Insulin poisoning, as opposed to hypoglycaemia induced by therapeutic doses of insulin, is rare, and guidelines on management differ. We have reviewed the evidence on treatment of insulin poisoning.

METHODS: We searched PubMed, EMBASE and J-Stage with no restrictions of date or language for controlled studies on treatment of insulin poisoning, collected published cases of insulin poisoning from 1923, and used data from the UK National Poisons Information Service.

RESULTS: We identified no controlled trials of treatment in insulin poisoning and few relevant experimental studies. Case reports described 315 admissions (301 patients) with insulin poisoning between 1923 and 2022. The insulin with the longest duration of action was long-acting in 83 cases, medium-acting in 116, short-acting in 36 and a rapid-acting analogue in 16. Decontamination by surgical excision of the injection site was reported in six cases. To restore and maintain euglycaemia, almost all cases were treated with glucose, infused for a median 51 hours, interquartile range 16-96 h in 179 cases; 14 patients received glucagon and nine octreotide; adrenaline was tried occasionally. Both corticosteroids and mannitol were occasionally given to mitigate hypoglycaemic brain damage. There were 29 deaths reported, 22/156 (86% survival) up to 1999 and 7/159 (96% survival) between 2000 and 2022 (p = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS: There is no randomized controlled trial to guide treatment of insulin poisoning. Treatment with glucose infusion, sometimes supplemented with glucagon, is almost always effective in restoring euglycaemia, but optimum treatments to maintain euglycaemia and restore cerebral function remain uncertain.

PMID:36861356 | DOI:10.1111/dme.15076

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