Anaphylaxis

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

Anaphylaxis (also known as anaphylactic shock or reaction) is an acute severe systemic hypersensitivity reaction, commonly presenting with urticaria/angioedema, hypotension and bronchial hyperreactivity. It may be fatal.

Anaphylactoid reactions result from non-immune system mediated mechanisms. However they are clinically indistinguishable from anaphylactic reactions with similar risks of multiorgan failure and death. From a patient perspective anaphylactoid and anaphylactic reactions are managed identically 5

The published epidemiological data from the USA, UK and Australia, demonstrates an incidence rate of anaphylaxis of 7 to 50 cases per 100,000 per annum. The number of deaths is estimated to be up to 3 per 1,000,000 per year. 

There is no gender preference in adults; in prepubescent children, it is more common in boys 1.

The typical presentation affects the skin, chest, GI tract and cardiovascular system. Often the signs and symptoms are indolent in onset and initially mild, such as itching and rashes.

  • urticaria
  • angioedema
  • systemic hypotension
  • bronchospasm

However, up to 20% patients with anaphylaxis lack any evidence of circulatory compromise or dermatological sequelae 2.

In radiology, approximately 1 in 40,000 patients will experience anaphylaxis from iodinated contrast media. Most anaphylaxis will occur within twenty minutes of administration of IV contrast agents, although longer delays are occasionally seen.

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Article information

rID: 70863
Section: Approach
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Anaphylactoid shock
  • Anaphylactoid reaction
  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Anaphylactic shock

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