Colchicine overdose

G. Lewinsohn, N. Cohen, Y. Leonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colchicine is effective in preventing acute attacks of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) and its late complication, amyloidosis. Colchicine poisoning is uncommon but is observed in young patients with FMF who ingest an overdose with suicidal intent. Three such cases are described, one of them fatal. The clinical presentation of colchicine toxicity can be divided into three stages. In the first, after a latent period of a few hours, gastrointestinal symptoms develop, including nausea, vomiting, diffuse abdominal pain and diarrhea. The intermediate stage usually develops 24 hours after ingestion and is characterized by pulmonary, renal, cardiovascular, hematologic and neurologic complications which end in multi-organ failure. If the patient survives into the third stage, rebound leukocytosis is seen as bone-marrow function recovers. The treatment of colchicine overdose is mainly supportive. Early gastric lavage and the installation of activated charcoal may prevent colchicine absorption and toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-439+475
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


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