Inadvertent intrathecal administration of daunomycin resulting in fatality: Case report and therapeutic considerations

Sauson Soldozy, Anant Patel, Kurt Yaeger, Daniel Felbaum, Steven M. Spitz, Hasan R. Syed, M. Nathan Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Daunomycin is a chemotherapeutic agent of the anthracycline family that is administered intravenously, most commonly in combination therapy. The authors report the first known adult case of inadvertently administered daunomycin directly into the human central nervous system and the neurologic manifestations and therapeutic interventions that followed. Clinical description: A 53-year-old male presenting to the hospital for his second cycle of consolidation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia t(15;17) was accidentally administered 93 mg of intrathecal (IT) daunomycin. Within several hours of injection, the patient subsequently developed bilateral lower extremity pain, ascending paresthesias, headache, and left cranial nerve (CN) III palsy. Immediately following these neurologic sequalae, a subarachnoid lumbar drain was placed at the L4-5 interspace for the initial irrigation and drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). By hospital day 2, the patient's mental status significantly declined requiring an external ventricular drain (EVD) for hydrocephalus. Despite therapeutic interventions, the patient developed an ascending radiculomyeloencephalopathy with deterioration in clinical status. Eighteen days after the inadvertent injection of IT daunomycin, the patient became comatose and lost all cranial nerve function. Conclusions: Accidental IT injection of daunomycin is a neurosurgical emergency and warrants prompt intervention. Symptoms can mimic other medical conditions, making it imperative an accurate diagnosis is made so that appropriate therapies are implemented. At this time, therapies include rapid removal of the chemotherapeutic agent from the IT compartment by aspiration and irrigation; however, it is unclear if neuroprotective agents may provide added benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100297
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Daunomycin
  • External ventricular drain
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intrathecal injection
  • Lumbar drain
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Paraplegia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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