Background: The last major survey of adverse reactions to intravenous fluorescein angiography was performed more than 20 years ago. There have been two recent fatalities involving intravenous fluorescein in Australia. It is important to review the current incidence of adverse reactions and latest literature on the pathogenesis, prophylaxis and alternatives to intravenous fluorescein angiography.
Methods: A retrospective review of all adverse reactions to intravenous sodium fluorescein in patients undergoing fluorescein angiography between June 1998 and June 2004 was undertaken. The total number of fluorescein angiograms performed and the number of patients with adverse reactions were identified from the photographic department database and the fluorescein adverse reaction register at the Lions Eye Institute.
Results: A total of 11 898 fluorescein angiograms were performed during the study period. There were 132 adverse reactions recorded. The commonest adverse reactions were nausea and vomiting. There were no serious adverse reactions or deaths recorded. There was a statistically significant difference in the incidence of adverse reactions between sodium fluorescein used from two manufacturers.
Conclusions: Fluorescein angiography is a relative safe procedure and comparable to other intravenous radiocontrast media angiography or investigation. The present results are consistent with previous studies. Prophylactic treatment, fluorescein desensitization or oral fluorescein angiography should be considered in high-risk patients. Safe guards should be in place to manage potential serious adverse reactions. Other imaging techniques, like optical coherence tomography, should be considered as an alternative in selected cases.