Cocaine metabolism in hyperthermic
patients with excited delirium

Blaho K, Winbery S, Park L,
Logan B, Karch SB, Barker LA.
Department of Emergency Medicine and Clinical Toxicology,
UT Medical Group, Memphis, USA.
J Clin Forensic Med. 2000 Jun;7(2):71-6


The half-life of cocaine in clinical experiments has been reported to range from 60 to 90 min. It has been previously suggested that elevated temperature may accelerate the metabolism of cocaine. However, there is no clinical data to indicate the presence of hyperthermia like that seen in excited delirium alters the half-life of cocaine. We report the results of half-life determinations from serial cocaine concentrations in two patients with excited delirium. Both patients presented to the emergency department with classic findings of excited delirium that included hyperthermia, agitation, and cardiovascular aberrations. One patient died despite aggressive therapeutic intervention. Cocaine and metabolite concentrations were determined by an extractive alkylation mass spectrometry procedure. Presenting cocaine concentrations in patient 1 and patient 2 were 0.387 and 0.266 mg/L respectively. Results from pharmacokinetic modeling of the serial concentrations show that the half-life of cocaine was not significantly accelerated, despite the presence of hyperthermia. Data from these two cases provide further evidence that catastrophic reactions to cocaine are independent of amount or route of administration, and that the metabolism of cocaine, at least in these patients, was not altered by hyperthermia.

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