Preventing allergic reactions during surgery is better, research suggests

Allergic reactions occurring during operations when patients have been put to sleep are increasing. These reactions may be life threatening, and researchers are advising anyone who has had an anaphylactic or severe reaction during anaesthesia should find out what the allergen is before undergoing any other surgery where possible.

However, because of the low accuracy of diagnostic tests, or when emergency surgery is needed, it is suggested that all drugs administered be replaced with alternatives. As well as this precaution, it is suggested that any cross-reactive agent, and latex, should be avoided. In such high-risk patients, pre-medication with antihistamines or corticosteroids may reduce the severity of any potential reaction. It is not yet known whether this might reduce incidence of anaphylaxis.

However, physicians should not rely on pre-medication, and know that there is no evidence that pre-medication prevents allergic reactions to latex.

Source: International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology

First published in July 2011

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