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Methylene blue and ifosfamide-induced encephalopathy: Myth or reality?

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Abahssain H, Moukafih B, Essangri H, Mrabti H, Meddah B, Guessous F, Fadhil FZ, Souadka A, Errihani H.
J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2021 Jan;27(1):143-149.

Background: Ifosfamide-induced encephalopathy (IIE) is a rare and serious adverse reaction. Thus far, no standard medication has been documentedto be efficient in the reversal of IIE, and while ifosfamide infusion interruption and hydration are recommended, methylene blue (MB) administration remains controversial.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed medical records to assess cases with IIE after ifosfamide infusion. We included all patients having received an ifosfamide infusion during their hospitalization in the medical oncology unit of the National Institute of Oncology in Rabat, Morocco, between September 2016 and September 2017. We subsequently conducted a literature review to determine the role of MB in IIE by searching PubMed using the terms « Methylene Blue » and « Ifosfamide ».

Results: A total of 88 patients received ifosfamide, and four patients had IIE. Ifosfamide infusion was stopped immediately after the IIE occurrence, and patients underwent renal function correction with hydration. All patients received MB infusion, and three patients had an improvement of their neurological status. As regards the literature review, 34 articles were reviewed and 16 items were included in the review. Overall, 38 (65.5%) patients received MB infusion and 28 (75.6%) patients responded favorably to the treatment.

Conclusions: Methylene blue can be used as a treatment for IIE owing to the severity of the IIE as well as absence of standard medication. Nonetheless, side effects such as serotonergic syndrome should be investigated. More broadly, prospective studies and controlled trials are needed to explore the contribution of MB in IIE management and encourage its use.

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