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It has been reported that akathisia is a neurological side effect induced by antiemetic drugs and/or antipsychotics. Akathisia can occur in any area of the body, but respiratory akathisia is an unusual type of akathisia. Cases of respiratory akathisia in cancer patients taking antiemetic drugs have not previously been reported.
We report on a case of a cancer patient taking prochlorperazine as an antiemetic drug who experienced dyspnea accompanied by severe restlessness associated with respiration. By administration of biperiden, his restlessness in respiration and dyspnea promptly disappeared.
This finding led us to conclude that this cancer patient was experiencing respiratory akathisia.
Significance of results:
Respiratory akathisia is uncommon. It is important for cancer patients that dyspnea induced by disease progression be ruled out as a cause of the respiratory restlessness. It is necessary to consider the possibility of akathisia in patients that complain of vague anxiety, chest discomfort, or dyspnea following antipsychotic medication.
There is substantial evidence that tricyclic antidepressants are effective in the management of chronic pain, including cancer pain. In oncological settings, these agents are used as adjuvant analgesic drugs. However, cases of akathisia due to tricyclic antidepressants used as adjuvant analgesic therapy have not previously been reported.
Two cancer patients experiencing chronic pain who were refractory to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids were prescribed amoxapine as an adjuvant analgesic therapy for neuropathic pain. These patients developed inner restlessness and restless physical movements after amoxapine was prescribed. Although symptoms were atypical, akathisia was suspected and discontinuation of amoxapine resolved the symptoms.
Results and significance of results:
Akathisia should be considered in patients receiving adjuvant analgesic therapy with tricyclic antidepressants. Early detection and appropriate treatment will relieve this distressing symptom. Restless movements involving parts of the body other than the legs may be the clue to the diagnosis.
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