Extracorporeal treatment for poisoning to beta-adrenergic antagonists: systematic review and recommendations from the EXTRIP workgroup

Crit Care. 2021 Jun 10;25(1):201. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03585-7.


Background: β-adrenergic antagonists (BAAs) are used to treat cardiovascular disease such as ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, dysrhythmias, and hypertension. Poisoning from BAAs can lead to severe morbidity and mortality. We aimed to determine the utility of extracorporeal treatments (ECTRs) in BAAs poisoning.

Methods: We conducted systematic reviews of the literature, screened studies, extracted data, and summarized findings following published EXTRIP methods.

Results: A total of 76 studies (4 in vitro and 2 animal experiments, 1 pharmacokinetic simulation study, 37 pharmacokinetic studies on patients with end-stage kidney disease, and 32 case reports or case series) met inclusion criteria. Toxicokinetic or pharmacokinetic data were available on 334 patients (including 73 for atenolol, 54 for propranolol, and 17 for sotalol). For intermittent hemodialysis, atenolol, nadolol, practolol, and sotalol were assessed as dialyzable; acebutolol, bisoprolol, and metipranolol were assessed as moderately dialyzable; metoprolol and talinolol were considered slightly dialyzable; and betaxolol, carvedilol, labetalol, mepindolol, propranolol, and timolol were considered not dialyzable. Data were available for clinical analysis on 37 BAA poisoned patients (including 9 patients for atenolol, 9 for propranolol, and 9 for sotalol), and no reliable comparison between the ECTR cohort and historical controls treated with standard care alone could be performed. The EXTRIP workgroup recommends against using ECTR for patients severely poisoned with propranolol (strong recommendation, very low quality evidence). The workgroup offered no recommendation for ECTR in patients severely poisoned with atenolol or sotalol because of apparent balance of risks and benefits, except for impaired kidney function in which ECTR is suggested (weak recommendation, very low quality of evidence). Indications for ECTR in patients with impaired kidney function include refractory bradycardia and hypotension for atenolol or sotalol poisoning, and recurrent torsade de pointes for sotalol. Although other BAAs were considered dialyzable, clinical data were too limited to develop recommendations.

Conclusions: BAAs have different properties affecting their removal by ECTR. The EXTRIP workgroup assessed propranolol as non-dialyzable. Atenolol and sotalol were assessed as dialyzable in patients with kidney impairment, and the workgroup suggests ECTR in patients severely poisoned with these drugs when aforementioned indications are present.

Keywords: Beta-blockers; ECLS; Hemodialysis; Hemoperfusion; Intoxication; Overdose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacokinetics
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / poisoning*
  • Consensus
  • Drug Overdose / etiology
  • Drug Overdose / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / methods*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists