To evaluate safety and efficacy of gabapentin in the treatment of severe chronic hiccups in patients with advanced cancer.
Charts of all patients observed in the palliative care unit of a 4-bed hospital and at home by our Home Care Service were reviewed retrospectively.
The presence of hiccups was routinely assessed. Patients with severe chronic hiccups were treated with gabapentin (300 mg t.i.d.). Doses of gabapentin were titrated based on the response to treatment.
Gabapentin-related adverse effects were recorded.
Thirty-seven (3.9%) of 944 in-hospital patients and 6 (4.5%) of 134 patients observed at home presented severe chronic hiccups.
We registered an improvement of hiccups, defined as complete resolution of hiccups, in 31 (83.8%) of 37 in-hospital patients and 4 (66.7%) of 6 patients observed at home.
Four (10.8%) of the 37 in-hospital patients and 2 (33.3%) of the 6 patients observed at home experienced a reduction of hiccups.
In 2 patients (5.4%), we registered a worsening of hiccups.
Responses were observed in 32 patients (74.4%) with gabapentin at a dosage of 900 mg/d and in 9 patients (20.93%) at 1200 mg/d.
In 2 patients (4.65%), grade 2 sleepiness was observed and in 10 patients (23.25%), grade 1 sleepiness was observed based on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
The results of the study allow suggesting gabapentin at least as a promising drug in the treatment of severe chronic hiccups in advanced cancer patients.