Intravenous lipid emulsion in the emergency department: a systematic review of recent literature

J Emerg Med. 2015 Mar;48(3):387-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2014.10.009. Epub 2014 Dec 19.


Background: Intravenous lipid emulsion (ILE) has been broadly attempted in the resuscitation of neurologic and cardiac toxic drug overdoses, however, the role of ILE in the emergency department is poorly defined.

Objective: This review aims to identify recent literature on the use of ILE in humans as an antidote and to familiarize emergency providers with the indications, availability, dosing recommendations, and adverse reactions associated with ILE use.

Methods: A systemic literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and major toxicology conference abstracts was performed for human cases using ILE as an antidote with documented clinical outcomes through January 2014.

Results: Ninety-four published articles and 40 conference abstracts were identified, 85% of which had positive outcomes. The most common indication for ILE was for local anesthetic systemic toxicity (LAST). The most common nonlocal anesthetic xenobiotics were tricyclic-antidepressants and verapamil.

Discussion: No standard of care is defined for the use of ILE, although the American Heart Association recommends use in LAST, and the American College of Medical Toxicology recommends consideration for circumstances of hemodynamic instability resultant from lipid-soluble xenobiotics. ILE should be administered per American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine dosing recommendations. Laboratory interference, pancreatitis, respiratory distress syndrome, and interference with vasopressors should be considered as risks but are uncommon.

Conclusions: In the setting of severe hemodynamic compromise by lipid-soluble xenobiotics, ILE may be considered for resuscitation by emergency physicians. As such, ILE may be stocked in emergency departments in close proximity to resuscitation rooms and areas where local nerve blocks are performed.

Keywords: Lipid emulsion; lipid solubility; overdose; resuscitation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Local / poisoning
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / poisoning
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / poisoning
  • Antidotes / therapeutic use*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Poisoning / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Verapamil / poisoning


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Antidotes
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous
  • Verapamil