Prevalence of anaphylactic reactions to aprotinin: analysis of two hundred forty-eight reexposures to aprotinin in heart operations

Dietrich, W.; Späth, P.; Ebell, A.; Richter, J.A.

Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 113(1): 194-201


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-5223
PMID: 9011690
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-5223(97)70415-x
Accession: 047060748

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The efficacy of aprotinin to reduce intraoperative bleeding tendency in cardiac operations has been demonstrated in several studies. Aprotinin is a polybasic polypeptide and has antigenic properties. Anaphylactic reactions to aprotinin have been described. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of adverse reactions to reexposure to high-dose aprotinin. The clinical outcome of all patients undergoing heart operations in our institution between 1988 and 1995 with at least two exposures to aprotinin was investigated. There were 248 reexposures to aprotinin in 240 patients: 101 adult and 147 pediatric cases. The total aprotinin doses were 4.9 x 10(6) (interquartile range 2 x 10(6)) KIU (adults) and 1.3 x 10(6) (interquartile range 1.2 x 10(6)) KIU (pediatric patients). The time between the first and second aprotinin exposures was 344 (interquartile range 1039) days. Seven adverse reactions to aprotinin were found (2.8%). The severity of the reaction ranged from mild (no intervention) to severe (longer-lasting circulatory depression despite vasopressor therapy). All patients survived the event. Patients with an interval less than 6 months since the previous exposure had a statistically higher incidence of adverse reactions than patients with a longer interval (5/111 or 4.5% vs 2/137 or 1.5%, p < 0.05). Two patients reacted to a test dose of 10,000 KIU aprotinin. Pretreatment with antihistaminics was done in 60% of the patients. We recommend the following procedure for reexposure with high-dose aprotinin: (1) delay of the first bolus injection of aprotinin until the surgeon is ready to begin cardiopulmonary bypass, (2) test dose of 10,000 KIU aprotinin in all patients with aprotinin treatment, (3) H1/H2 blockade in known or possible reexposures, and (4) avoidance of reexposure within the first 6 months after the previous exposure to aprotinin. With these precautions a reexposure to aprotinin in patients with a high risk of bleeding is justified, because the benefits of aprotinin treatment outweigh the relative risk of a serious allergic reaction.