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Anaphylaxis to intravenous gelatin-based solutions: a case series examining clinical features and severity - 11/2/2019

Anaesthesia 2019; 74: 174-9


The proportion of patients receiving intravenous gelatin-based colloids has increased in the last decade owing to safety concerns about starch-based products. Recent research suggests that hypersensitivity reactions to intravenous gelatin-based solutions occur at similar rates per administration as non-depolarising neuromuscular blocking agents such as rocuronium (6.2/100,000 administrations). There are few published data on the clinical features, diagnosis and time course of these reactions. These authors undertook a review of cases reported and tested at one of the UK's largest drug allergy clinics.


All patients seen in the drug allergy clinic at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London, UK) with a confirmed diagnosis of anaphylaxis to gelatin-based solutions between May 2013 and May 2018 were included. The authors retrospectively reviewed clinical histories, skin test results and severity of reactions in this cohort of patients.



Twelve patients with anaphylaxis to gelatin-based solutions were identified (eight women, mean [standard deviation] age 58 [17] years). Eleven reactions were severe or life-threatening, with three progressing to cardiac arrest. Presentation was commonly delayed; only three patients suffered reactions within 5 minutes of the solution being administered, with a further six presenting 10-70 minutes later. Where measured, tryptase was elevated in all patients (median [interquartile range {range}] 14.7 [8.2-23.8 {6.5-83.4}] ng/ml).



The authors conclude that reactions to gelatin-based solutions are usually severe and can present with latency uncommon with other intravenous anaesthetic triggers. They suggest that the use of gelatin-based solutions in the perioperative setting should be reassessed, given the risk of severe allergy.

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