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Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2004 Aug;8(4):377-82.

Management of patients receiving antithymocyte globulin for aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

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  • 1Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Antithymocyte globulin (ATG) is used commonly in patients with severe aplastic anemia and those undergoing renal transplant. Its utility also is being explored in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome, conditioning regimens for hematopoietic stem cell transplant, and prophylaxis of graft-versus-host disease. As indications for ATG expand, knowledge regarding its administration and management of associated toxicities is needed. These toxicities range from life-threatening anaphylaxis associated with the infusion to flu-like symptoms that occur one to two weeks after the infusion. Adverse effects are classified according to the severity and system impacted. Mild toxicities respond to comfort measures and include fever, chills, urticarial rash, and vomiting. Moderate toxicities require acute interventions and include fluid-responsive hypotension, nonischemic chest pain, and reversible oxygen desaturation. Severe toxicities require intensive support and include those refractory to earlier intervention. Management of these toxicities usually is limited to fluid resuscitation and noninvasive monitoring. Occurrence of infusion-related toxicities may require premature discontinuation of therapy. Therefore, an educated healthcare team and interdisciplinary clinical management guidelines are important to ensure the safe administration and complete course of ATG.

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