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Keywords:

  • BAT;
  • NMBA;
  • provocation test;
  • sIgE;
  • skin test

Summary

Background

Neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) are a predominant cause of perioperative anaphylaxis in Europe. Diagnosis of NMBA allergy relies upon the careful review of the anaesthetic report complemented with skin tests. Additional diagnostic tests are quantification of specific IgE antibodies (sIgE) and basophil activation test (BAT). However, data on the predictive value of the skin tests, the BAT and the sIgE assays (drug-specific and substituted ammonium structures) are limited or not available, mainly because such exploration requires dangerous NMBA provocation tests.

Methods

In this study, the predictive value of skin test, BAT and measurement of sIgE to substituted ammonium structures is gathered from a review of anaesthetic records of subsequent surgical procedures with NMBA administration and/or occurrence of perioperative incidents.

Results

We investigated a series of 272 patients with perioperative anaphylaxis, of whom 100 had undergone second general anaesthesia. Negative skin test and negative BAT assisted the selection of alternative NMBA, which were well tolerated in all cases. Five patients with a positive sIgE to rocuronium but with negative skin testing and BAT safely received rocuronium during second anaesthesia. Twelve patients with sIgE reactivity to morphine, but negative skin test and BAT to benzylisoquinolines, tolerated administration of cisatracurium or atracurium. Alternatively, benzylisoquinoline allergy went undetected in the morphine solid-phase assay.

Conclusions

Skin test and BAT have an excellent negative predictive value in our series. The uneventful re-exposure of rocuronium in patients with an isolated positive sIgE result to rocuronium calls into question the predictive value of this assay and suggests sIgE serology to be less clinically predictive than the functional investigations relying upon activation of mast cells or basophils. The presence of a positive sIgE to substituted ammonium structures such as morphine does not preclude further use of benzylisoquinolines.