Accidental chronic lithium toxicity

Vangelis George Kanellis, Ramila Varendran


Lithium is an effective first-line mood stabiliser for bipolar disorder, treatment-refractory depression and suicide prevention. Studies have demonstrated its ability to produce neuroprotective benefits. Despite this, Lithium can cause neurotoxicity, cardiotoxicity and endocrine derangement resulting in severe (and potentially permanent) side effects. Lithium toxicity can be precipitated by illness, salt restriction diets, dehydration, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, impaired creatinine clearance, concomitant drugs. This is particularly true in older patients with altered pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. We present a 52-year-old female who presented with prolonged signs of lithium toxicity post-diarrhoea. Lack of monitoring due to her nomadic life-style resulted in the combination of long-lasting neurotoxicity and thyroid dysfunction. Our patient displayed neurotoxicity that was not present on imaging. This highlights the importance of regular monitoring of renal function, lithium serum levels and neuro-endocrine function to reduce complications associated with lithium toxicity.


Bipolar, Chronic, Endocrine, Lithium, Monitoring, Neurotoxicity, Renal, Thyroid, Toxicity

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