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J R Soc Med. 1994 March; 87(3): 135–137.
PMCID: PMC1294391

Management of tetanus: a review of 18 cases.


Eighteen patients with generalized tetanus seen during an 8-year period in three regional hospitals in Hong Kong are reviewed. Eighty-nine per cent of the patients were intravenous heroin addicts who developed a severe type of generalized tetanus with autonomic dysfunction. Pain or stiffness of the neck or back was the commonest presenting symptom, followed by trismus and dysphagia. Most of the patients developed muscle spasms within 24 h of the onset of presenting symptoms. Early ventilatory support and tracheostomy, together with intensive nursing care, were the mainstay of the treatment. Pulmonary and gastrointestinal complications were common during the course of illness and treatment of autonomic dysfunction was often unsatisfactory. The case fatality rate was 25% among the heroin addicts, but full recovery was the usual outcome for those who survived. The simultaneous administration of intrathecal tetanus immunoglobulin tends to reduce mortality.

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Selected References

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