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Aust N Z J Surg. 1998 Mar;68(3):183-5.

Latex allergy in non-spina bifida patients: unfamiliar intra-operative anaphylaxis.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Royal Newcastle Hospital, Australia.



The medical literature has described the prevalence of latex allergy in the spina bifida population and its implications for surgical intervention. We report three cases of severe and unexpected intra-operative anaphylaxis secondary to latex exposure in non-spina bifida patients.


A retrospective review of case notes identified three non-spina bifida patients who suffered intra-operative anaphylaxis due to latex allergy. Personal and telephone interview and patient chart review was performed to detail a past history of multiple latex exposure, atopy, the anaphylaxis event and the postoperative outcome.


Three non-spina bifida patients are described. One suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest, the remaining two patients had severe vascular hypotension and airway resistance that was only relieved after administration of vasoconstrictors and bronchodilators. Postoperatively, all three tested strongly positive to latex allergen testing. Each patient had a history of multiple surgical latex exposure and specific allergies or allergic-type symptoms pre-operatively.


We believe that the predictors of a severe allergic reaction to latex with surgical exposure in non-spina bifida patients may be similar to those predictors known in the spina bifida population. Identification of such at-risk patients will reduce the risk of significant intra-operative morbidity and possible mortality by the introduction of a latex-free operating environment.

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