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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 55 (2013) 10, 761 - 771

Review article

Predictive methods versus clinical titration for the initiation of lithium therapy. A systematic review

I. Geeraerts, P. Sienaert


background When lithium is administered, the clinician needs to know when the lithium in the patient’s blood has reached a therapeutic level. At the initiation of treatment the level is usually achieved gradually through the application of the titration method. In order to increase the efficacy of this procedure several methods for dosing lithium and for predicting lithium levels have been developed.
aim To conduct a systematic review of the publications relating to the various methods for dosing lithium or predicting lithium levels at the initiation of therapy.
method We searched Medline systematically for articles published in English, French or Dutch between 1966 and April 2012 which described or studied a method for dosing lithium or for predicting the lithium level reached following a specific dosage. We screened the reference lists of relevant articles in order to locate additional papers.
results We found 38 lithium prediction methods, in addition to the clinical titration method. These methods can be divided into two categories: the ‘a priori’ methods and the ‘test-dose’ methods, the latter requiring the administration of a test dose of lithium.
conclusion The lithium prediction methods generally achieve a therapeutic blood level faster than the clinical titration method, but none of the methods achieves convincing results. On the basis of our review, we propose that the titration method should be used as the standard method in clinical practice.

keywords clinical titration, lithium, predictive method, systematic review, therapeutic drug monitoring