Evaluation of adverse reactions to local anesthetics: experience with 236 patients

Yackov Berkun, Amos Ben-Zvi, Yaacov Levy, Dan Galili, Meir Shalit
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2003, 91 (4): 342-5

BACKGROUND: Adverse reactions to local anesthetics (LAs) are frequently reported. Although most of these reactions are not immune mediated, many patients are referred to allergy clinics and undergo extensive evaluation.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of true LA allergy among the patients referred for suspected hypersensitivity and to evaluate the usefulness of the currently used evaluation protocol.

METHODS: A total of 236 patients referred to our allergy clinic for investigation of LA hypersensitivity were included in this study. The evaluation protocol was composed of skin prick and intradermal tests, followed by subcutaneous challenge with unrelated LA preparations that contained preservatives.

RESULTS: Skin prick and intradermal test results were negative for all subjects. No objective adverse reactions were observed during the challenge in all but 1 patient, who developed local erythema at the site of injection and later underwent an uneventful challenge with a different LA.

CONCLUSIONS: Allergic reactions were not reproduced during testing and challenge with LA preparations that contained preservatives or preservatives with adrenaline in our large group of patients with suspected LA allergy. Since both prick and intradermal skin test results were negative in all the patients and did not provide us with useful information, we propose to modify the standard protocol by omitting intradermal tests and shortening the challenge. We also suggest that the whole procedure be performed with LAs that contain preservatives, which are usually the preferred preparations widely used in daily practice.

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