Seven cases of rhabdomyolysis in heroin addicts are presented. All patients showed concomitant neurological symptoms suggesting mononeuropathy, incomplete plexus lesions or myelopathy. In most cases rhabdomyolysis occurred without preceding trauma to the muscles (for example tissue compression or coma). Five patients had a history of recently resumed heroin abuse after prolonged abstinence. An allergic or toxic reaction to heroin or adulterants seems to be more likely than trauma in the pathogenesis of these complications. Severe rhabdomyolysis can occur without visible muscular swelling. Routine screening of creatine kinase is recommended in heroin addicts with neurological complications, as rhabdomyolysis may lead to fatal renal failure and may easily fail to be diagnosed.
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