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Eur Respir J. 1994 Feb;7(2):332-6.

Bronchial provocation testing in the diagnosis of occupational asthma due to latex surgical gloves.

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  • 1Servizio di Medicina del Lavoro, Ospedale di Lecco, Italy.


In sensitized subjects, provocation tests to latex may induce severe systemic reactions and even anaphylactic shock. It is probable that part of the risk is due to the difficulty in grading the stimulating dose and in starting from very low levels of exposure. To identify the aetiological agent of work-related asthma in four nurses with previous allergic contact urticaria to latex surgical gloves dusted with cornstarch powder, we performed a specific bronchial provocation test study, based on exposure on three different days to nonpowdered latex surgical glove extract, powdered latex surgical glove extract and cornstarch powder extract, respectively. Extracts were nebulized in increasing concentrations in a 7 m3 challenge room, in the absence of the patients. The initial extract concentration was a tenfold dilution of the predetermined skin test end-point in the individual undergoing challenge, and the highest concentration was the undiluted extract. After exposure, the patients' forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was monitored for 2 h. If FEV1 decreased by at least 15%, the next scheduled exposure was not carried out and FEV1 was monitored over a period of 24 h. Whereas nebulization of cornstarch powder extract caused no bronchial reaction in the patients, nebulization of nonpowdered latex surgical glove extract induced immediate bronchoconstriction in two subjects as an undiluted solution, and nebulization of powdered latex surgical glove extract induced immediate bronchoconstriction in all subjects at the 1:10 dilution. No systemic reaction was elicited by the bronchial provocation challenges. Our results demonstrate that airborne powder from latex gloves can be an inhalative occupational hazard.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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