Utility and outcomes of hydroxocobalamin use in smoke inhalation patients

Burns. 2017 Feb;43(1):107-113. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2016.07.028. Epub 2016 Aug 21.


Introduction: Hydroxocobalamin has been available for use for suspected cyanide toxicity in smoke inhalation patients in the United States since 2006. Our study compares outcomes of patients who received hydroxocobalamin to historical controls who did not.

Methods: In this retrospective review, patients administered hydroxocobalamin (2008-2014) were compared to historical controls (2002-2008). Patients <18 years, patients who received an alternate antidote, and patients without suspicion of smoke inhalation injury were excluded. Mortality was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes evaluated were 7-day change in creatinine, culture-proven pneumonia, days on mechanical ventilation, ventilator- free days (VFD), ICU length of stay (ICU LOS), and hospital length of stay (HLOS).

Results: A total of 138 patients in the hydroxocobalamin group and 135 in the control group were identified. Mortality rate was similar between both groups (29% vs. 28%, p=0.90). Hydroxocobalamin was associated with lower pneumonia rate (23% vs. 49%, p<0.01), less ventilator days (4 days vs. 7 days, p<0.01), and increased VFD (20 days vs. 11 days, p=0.01) compared to controls. Shorter ICU LOS (6 days vs. 10 days, p=0.03) and a trend toward lower HLOS (7 day vs. 11 days, p=0.06) were also found in patients who received hydroxocobalamin.

Conclusions: Routine administration was associated with lower rate of pneumonia, faster liberation from the ventilator, and reductions in intensive care unit stay. Burn centers should consider its empiric use in suspected smoke inhalation patients.

Keywords: Burn; Cyanokit; Hydroxocobalamin; Inhalation injury; Pneumonia; Smoke inhalation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidotes / therapeutic use
  • Burn Units
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cyanides / poisoning
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxocobalamin / therapeutic use*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology*
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smoke Inhalation Injury / therapy*
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*


  • Antidotes
  • Cyanides
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Hydroxocobalamin