Anaphylaxis: An Analysis of Cases Evaluated at the Puerto Rico Medical Center Over a Ten-Year Period

María L. Santaella, Pedro R. Cox, Cristina Ramos, Orville M. Disdier


Objective. To examine the clinical characteristics of patients with anaphylactic reactions evaluated at the Puerto Rico Medical Center over a ten year period. Background. Anaphylaxis, an immunologic reaction classically initiated by the combination of an antigen and a mast cell fixed antibody (usually IgE), still carries a fatality rate of 500 to 1000 cases per year in the United States. It constitutes a medical emergency that needs to be identified promptly in order to install appropriate treatment. No studies of this condition have been conducted in Puerto Rico, specifically to assess the clinical presentation, main causes and outcome. Methods. Eighty-three records of patients with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis were screened by retrospective and concurrent analysis. Of these, only 51 fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of anaphylaxis. Specific data gathered from those records assessed the clinical characteristics of each case, precipitating factors, severity of the reaction and outcome. A standard form was used for data gathering. A grading system was utilized to classify the severity of the clinical episodes. Results. Cutaneous features were the most commonly found manifestations of anaphylactic reactions in the studied group. Only reactions graded 2 and 3 were identified. Reactions to medications were the most frequent identifiable causes of the entity. Multiple sensitivities to different allergens were not predictive of this clinical condition. Conclusions. The identification in this study that only cases with the more severe grades of anaphylaxis were evaluated and treated at our center, the inability to recognize an inciting cause in about one third of the patient sample and the fact that a minority of the treated patients received subsequent follow-up by an allergist, reflect the need to promote the training of physicians in the field of allergy in Puerto Rico and the continued education of all physicians in the Island regarding this clinical disorder.

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