Allergy to suxamethonium: persisting abnormalities in skin tests, specific IgE antibodies and leucocyte histamine release


Dr D. Vervloet, Department of Chest Diseases and Allergology, Hôpital Sainte-Marguerite, BP 29, 13277 Marseille Cedex 9, France.


Twenty-one patients, who had previously experienced an anaphylactic reaction to suxamethonium during general anaesthesia, were selected for this study. Initially, skin tests with muscle relaxants were carried out in the twenty-one patients, detection of specific anti-choline IgE in nineteen, and leucocyte histamine release in seventeen. These three tests were then repeated between 1 year and 4 years after the initial evaluation. In the majority of patients, sensitization to the muscle relaxants persisted for more than 1 year after the anaphylactic reaction. Only three patients out of twenty-one (4%) had negative skin tests when retested 1–4 years later. A reduction in leucocyte histamine release was noticed in one of the seventeen retested patients (6%). Modifications of anti-choline IgE were observed in five of nineteen patients (26%). The persistence of sensitization to suxamethonium may result from repeated stimulation by occasional contacts with quaternary ammonium compounds. This study demonstrates the reliability of skin tests, leucocyte histamine release and detection of anti-choline IgE to diagnose allergic reactions to suxamethonium, even when they are performed a long time after the initial anaphylactic reaction.