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Revista Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecología

Print version ISSN 0034-7434


VELASQUEZ-PENAGOS, Jesús A; GOMEZ-JIMENEZ, Jorge Mario  and  AGUDELO-JARAMILLO, Bernardo. Ergotism of the central nervous system: Report of two maternal deaths associated with cerebral vasospasm due to ergot-derived drugs in Antioquia, Colombia, and review of the literature. Rev Colomb Obstet Ginecol [online]. 2016, vol.67, n.3, pp.231-236. ISSN 0034-7434.

Objective: To report two cases of maternal death associated with ergot-derived drugs (acute sever ergotism), and to conduct and review of the literature on central nervous system adverse events during the postpartum period in women exposed to these medications. Materials and methods: Two cases of maternal death during the postpartum period. The first was associated with the use of bromocriptine for breast milk suppression, and the second was associated with the use of methylergometrine for the control of bleeding after Cesarean section. The patients received care at Level III institutions in the city of Medellín, Colombia. A review of the literature was conducted in the Medline database through Pubmed. The terms used for the search were: ergot derivatives, bromocriptine, postpartum cerebralangiitis, ergotism, postpartum cerebral vascular disease. The search was conducted without a time limitation and included, case reports, case series reports, and reviews. The search also included safety reports or alerts from regulatory agencies such as the FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and Invima. Articles in English, French and Spanish were reviewed. Results: Overall, 16 publications that met the search criteria were included, and 33 cases were identified. Two of the cases were fatal, one associated with the use of intravenous methylergonovine for delivery and the second one was associated with the use of oral ergometrine to induce abortion at 20 weeks of gestation. Neuroimaging studies show, predominantly, ischemic findings (suggestive of cerebral vasospasm). In three cases, intracranial haemorrhage was reported, and one of the three cases was fatal. The most frequent presenting symptoms were intense headache, followed by seizures. It was possible to identify a history of hypertension and/or preeclampsia only in nine cases, and a history of migraine in four. The vast majority of patients were otherwise healthy. In all the cases, the indication for using bromocriptine was breast milk suppression. In the three reported cases in which methylergonovine was used, the indication was to assist delivery. No reports of serious adverse events associated with these drugs were found in the Colombian pharmacovigilance system. Conclusion: Ergotism of the central nervous system due to the use of drugs such as bromocriptine and methylergonovine must be recognised during the postpartum period because it is life-threatening. It is important to create a culture of reporting of serious adverse events associated with these medications in our country.

Keywords : Maternal mortality; ergotism; ergot-derived alkaloids; cerebral vasospasm; postpartum.

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