Author(s): Turvey SE, Cronin B, Arnold AD, Dioun AF
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Antibiotic desensitization is an option for patients with suspected IgE-mediated antibiotic allergy when no other alternative exists for treating life-threatening bacterial infections. However, there are limited data describing the outcomes of this procedure with newer, commonly used antibiotics. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the safety and utility of antibiotic desensitization. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients undergoing antibiotic desensitization in our institution between November 1996 and November 2001. RESULTS: There were a total of 57 desensitizations performed in 21 patients. The mean age of the patients was 22.8 years (range, 1.9-44.5 years) and 15 (71\%) were female. Nineteen (90\%) of the 21 patients had been diagnosed as having cystic fibrosis. In 33 (100\%) of 33 desensitizations to unique antibiotics that occurred during the study period, the indication for desensitization was a history suggestive of an IgE-mediated reaction to the antibiotic and/or a positive skin test result to the antibiotic or a known cross-reactive antibiotic. Desensitizations were performed to 12 different antibiotics. Successful outcomes were achieved in 43 desensitizations (75\%). Of the 11 cases (19\%) that were terminated due to an allergic reaction, there were no fatalities, intubations, or other aggressive interventions besides the use of epinephrine, antihistamines, and corticosteroids. In 7 of 11 unsuccessful desensitizations, a non-IgE mechanism appeared to be responsible for the allergic reaction. CONCLUSIONS: Antibiotic desensitization is a useful option when treating patients with life-threatening infections who must receive antibiotics to which they have an IgE-mediated allergy. These data indicate that in most cases, patients with presumed IgE-mediated antibiotic allergy may safely receive antibiotics after desensitization.
This article was published in Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology