Intravenous literature: Toomey, M. (2013) Preoperative chlorhexidine anaphylaxis in a patient scheduled for coronary artery bypass graft: a case report. AANA Journal. 81(3), p.209-14.
Chlorhexidine is a synthetic antiseptic and disinfectant that has been widely used in the healthcare setting and in everyday household products. In addition to oral rinses and skin preparations, manufacturers have incorporated chlorhexidine coatings into medical devices such as urinary catheters, endotracheal tubes, and central venous catheters in an effort to reduce infection rates. Despite the ubiquitous use of chlorhexidine, severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, are relatively rare. This case report describes a 65-year-old patient scheduled for coronary artery bypass graft surgery who preoperatively experienced anaphylaxis to chlorhexidine delivered through multiple routes of administration. To our knowledge, this is the first reported perioperative anaphylactic reaction to chlorhexidine in the United States. A review of the anaphylaxis cascade, the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections, and the risks of using chlorhexidine are thoroughly discussed. It must be appreciated that life-threatening reactions to this commonly used agent are more than just a theoretical possibility.