Ophthalmic atropine for sublingual use: A novel treatment for excessive respiratory secretions

Paul Staffieri, Kent Owusu, Maria Cardinale, Amber Castle


We describe a novel case of utilizing ophthalmic atropine suspension via sublingual route to control excessive secretions in a critically ill patient. In addition, a medication event related to a labeling and administration event is described where the patient received the drug via ophthalmic route. A 32-year-old Hispanic female presenting with NMDA-receptor antibody mediated encephalitis experienced a prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay secondary to hypercarbic respiratory failure complicated by excessive respiratory secretions. After one week on mechanical ventilation, the patient was set to undergo a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement and tracheotomy. The patient’s respiratory status was compromised by copious secretion production, preventing the patient from being transitioned to the general care floor. For secretion control, pharmacological interventions such as scopolamine transdermal patches and glycopyrrolate oral tablets were trialed, however systemic exposure to these agents resulted in urinary retention requiring catherization with a mild and persistent tachycardia. Ophthalmic atropine was administered sublingually at a dose of 1 mg every six hours to provide local relief of the patient's secretion production. Secretion production improved within 72 hours and the patient’s urinary retention resolved at the time of scopolamine and glycopyrrolate discontinuation. Previously in the literature the use of sublingual atropine was only described for secretion control in patients receiving end of life care, drug induced sialorrhea and neuro-developmental disorders. As observed in this case report, sublingual atropine may be an effective treatment to control respiratory secretions in critically ill patients who are unable to tolerate other therapies.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/crim.v3n3p82


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Case Reports in Internal Medicine

ISSN 2332-7243(Print)  ISSN 2332-7251(Online)

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