Use of Sublingual Nitrates for Management of Limb Ischemia Secondary to Inadvertent Intra-Arterial Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone®) Film Injection

Jonatahan Rivera-Gonzalez, Ariel Gonzalez-Cordero, Meylin Reyes, Hilton Franqui-Rivera


Multiple case reports have signaled a rise in buprenorphine abuse in the US, particularly among inmates. We present the case of limb ischemia secondary to accidental intra-arterial buprenorphine/naloxone film injection successfully treated with sublingual nitroglycerin. A 39-year-old man with history of intravenous drug use presented sudden severe left hand pain since three days prior to evaluation. Pain was preceded by self-injection of dissolved buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual film onto the affected arm. An arteriogram suggested severe vasoconstriction in the absence of frank thrombosis. Patient was initially treated with continuous heparin infusion and nifedipine. Forty-eight hours later, due to poor response, sublingual nitroglycerin was added to therapy. Digits regained color, sensation, and pain resolved within 15 minutes of administration of sublingual nitroglycerin. The presence of acute limb ischemia caused by prolonged vasospasm is a very rare complication. A normal angiogram should raise suspicion regarding vasospasm as the mechanism of ischemia, and prompt nitroglycerin therapy.


Suboxone;buprenorphine;Naloxone;intravenous drug user;limb ischemia;nitroglycerine

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