[Live-threatening bronchospasm during anesthesia induction : when pure routine becomes a nightmare]

A Rüggeberg, J Breckwoldt
Der Anaesthesist 2011, 60 (10): 937-41
This article reports a case of live-threatening respiratory failure during induction of anesthesia. An 18-year-old female was admitted to hospital for an axillary abscess incision on a public holiday. The patient had a history of asthmatic episodes and an allergy to milk protein and 2 years previously an asthmatic attack had possibly been treated by mechanical ventilation. Retrospectively, this event turned out to be a cardiac arrest with mechanical ventilation for 24 h. During induction of anesthesia the patient suddenly developed massive bronchospasms and ventilation was impossible for minutes. Oxygen saturation fell below 80% over a period of 12 min with a lowest measurement of 13%. The patient was treated with epinephrine, prednisolone, antihistamine drugs, ß(2)-agonists, s-ketamine and methylxanthines and 15 min later the oxygen saturation returned to normal values. After mild therapeutic hypothermia for 24 h mechanical ventilation was still required for another 4 days. The patient recovered completely and was discharged home on day 19. Initially propofol was suspected of having caused an anaphylactic shock but in retrospect, the diagnosis of near fatal asthma was more likely. The onset of the event was facilitated by the patient playing down the history of asthmatic episodes due to a strong wish for independency and negation of the severity of the disease.

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