Treatment of Intractable Pruritus in Drug Induced Cholestasis with Albumin Dialysis: A Report of Two Cases

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Cholestatic liver injury can be caused by a variety of drugs and is difficult to treat. We report two patients, a 22 year old male and a 55 year old female, with drug induced cholestasis caused by anabolic-androgenic steroids (silabolin and nandrolone) and by fluoxetine, respectively. Both patients presented with massive jaundice and severe pruritus resulting in sleep deprivation and suicide ideation. Laboratory examination revealed signs of cholestasis. Medical treatment was ineffective; therefore, extra-corporeal albumin dialysis using the molecular adsorbent recirculating system (MARS) was started. Three treatments with a mean duration of 16 hours were performed in each patient. The procedure was well tolerated by the patients and resulted in a sustained relief of pruritus as well as in a decline of plasma bilirubin and serum 3α-hydroxy bile acid levels. The mean plasma bilirubin concentration decreased from 25.27 mg/dl to 10.7 mg/dl; the mean serum 3α-hydroxy bile acid concentration decreased from 299 μmol/L to 88 μmol/L. After 2 months, the pruritus had nearly vanished in both patients, and there was a further decline of bilirubin levels after discharge from hospital. In conclusion, extracorporeal albumin dialysis appears to be a therapeutic option in severe drug induced cholestasis refractory to medical treatment.

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