Intoxication by star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) in 32 uraemic patients: treatment and outcome

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2003 Jan;18(1):120-5. doi: 10.1093/ndt/18.1.120.


Background: Clinical symptoms and outcomes of uraemic patients ingesting star fruit are quite variable and may progress to death. The purpose of the present report was to discuss the neurotoxic effects of star fruit intoxication in uraemic patients and to present the efficacy of different therapeutic approaches.

Methods: We studied a total of 32 uraemic patients who had ingested star fruit. Before the intoxication episodes, 20 patients were on regular haemodialysis, eight were on peritoneal dialysis and four were not yet undergoing dialysis. Two patients were analysed retrospectively from their charts, 17 were directly monitored by our clinic and 13 were referred by physicians from many areas throughout the country, allowing us to follow their outcome from a distance. Intoxicated patients were given different therapeutic approaches (haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and supportive treatment), and their outcomes were analysed.

Results: The most common symptoms were persistent and intractable hiccups in 30 patients (93.75%), vomiting in 22 (68.7%), variable degrees of disturbed consciousness (mental confusion, psychomotor agitation) in 21 (65.6%), decreased muscle power, limb numbness, paresis, insomnia and paresthesias in 13 (40.6%) and seizures in seven (21.8%). Patients who were promptly treated with haemodialysis, including those with severe intoxication, recovered without sequelae. Patients with severe intoxication who were not treated or treated with peritoneal dialysis did not survive.

Conclusions: Haemodialysis, especially on a daily basis, is the ideal treatment for star fruit intoxication. In severe cases, continuous methods of replacement therapy may provide a superior initial procedure, since rebound effects are a common event. Peritoneal dialysis is of no use as a treatment, especially when consciousness disorders ensue.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Foodborne Diseases / complications*
  • Foodborne Diseases / mortality
  • Fruit / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Dialysis
  • Peritoneal Dialysis, Continuous Ambulatory
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rosaceae / poisoning*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uremia / complications*