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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 64

of 'Overview of skin testing for allergic disease'

Reactions to prick and intradermal skin tests.
Bagg A, Chacko T, Lockey R
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009;102(5):400.
BACKGROUND: Allergy skin testing is a common procedure for the diagnosis of atopic diseases with a small risk of systemic reactions.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the 12-month incidence of systemic reactions (SRs) to skin prick testing (SPT) and intradermal skin testing (ST) and the symptoms and response to immediate treatment with epinephrine intramuscularly.
METHODS: A prospective study was conducted to evaluate SRs from ST in 1,456 patients. A standard form was used to record symptoms, signs, and treatment. The SRs are defined as any sign or symptom other than a local reaction thought to be secondary to ST. No vasovagal reactions were included. Nurses, as instructed by attending physicians, administered epinephrine (0.2 mL of a 1:1,000 dilution) intramuscularly in the deltoid as soon as any remote signs or symptoms occurred.
RESULTS: Fifty-two patients (3.6%) had SRs (6 SPT and 46 intradermal): 43 (83%) were female, and 17 (33%) had asthma. Systemic symptoms included (SPT/intradermal) pruritic eyes, nose, or pharynx(0%/46%); worsening cough (50%/26%); sensation of difficulty swallowing (0%/20%); worsening nasal congestion (17%/15%); rhinorrhea (17%/13%); chest tightness or shortness of breath (33%/11%); generalized pruritus (17%/11%); sneezing (33%/9%); wheeze (0%/4%); and urticaria (17%/2%). No severe asthma, shock, hypotension, unconsciousness, or biphasic reactions occurred. All 52 patients received epinephrine intramuscularly, 48 (92%) oral prednisone, 9 (17%) oral prednisone to take 6 to 8 hours after a reaction, 50 (96%) oral antihistamine, and 6 (12%) nebulized beta-agonist.
CONCLUSIONS: Of patients who underwent ST, SRs occurred in 3.6% (0.4% for SPT and 3.2% for intradermal ST), all of whom readily responded to epinephrine intramuscularly in the deltoid. This immediate administration of epinephrine seems to prevent more serious and biphasic reactions.
Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida, USA.