Pitfalls in anaphylaxis.

Research paper by Giulia G De Feo, Roberta R Parente, Massimo M Triggiani

Indexed on: 22 Jul '18Published on: 22 Jul '18Published in: Current opinion in allergy and clinical immunology


Anaphylaxis is an acute medical emergency characterized by sudden presentation of life-threatening respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms. Rapid diagnosis of anaphylaxis is crucial to implement an appropriate treatment and management plan. However, mistakes in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis may occur because of the limited time during which the diagnosis must be made, the stressful environment of the emergency room, the often aspecific or incomplete clinical features of early anaphylaxis and the lack of useful laboratory markers. Several disorders may mimick anaphylaxis and cause wrong or delayed diagnosis increasing chances of fatal outcomes. In addition, certain clinical situations, like general anesthesia, may complicate detection of early signs of anaphylaxis. Drugs like beta-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme-inhibitors, antihistamines or steroids may hide or blunt initial clinical manifestations of anaphylaxis. A careful evaluation of clinical signs in all organs is mandatory to quickly establish and confirm a diagnosis of anaphylaxis. Alternative diagnosis should be considered, particularly in the case of unresponsive patients. Avoiding pitfalls in anaphylaxis diagnosis will help to establish rapidly effective treatments and would further reduce the rate of fatal events.