Pre-mediction Protocol

                          Anaphylaxis and

Surgical Guidelines

Pre-medication for major and minor procedures and for radiology procedures

with and without dyes:

• Prednisone 50 mg orally (20 mg for children under 12) 24 hours and 1—2 hours prior to


• Benadry1 (Generic: diphenhydramine) 25-50 mg orally (12.5 mg for children under 12) or

Atarax (Generic: hydroxizine) 25 mg orally, 1 hour prior to surgery

• Zantac (Generic: ranitidine) 150 mg orally (20 mg for children under 12) 1 hour prior to


• Singulair (Generic: montelukast 1 hour prior to


Drugs to be avoided:

• Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications

• Morphine, codeine derivatives

• Vancomycin

Recommend: Tylenol

The Mastocytosis Society thanks Dr. Mariana Castells for this emergency protocol.


Adapted with UK anaphylaxis guidelines and drug names




Nancy Gould and Regis (Gigi) Park


Surgery is a stressful experience. For a patient with mast cell disease, that stress is compounded by the possibility of complications including anaphylaxis, cardiovascular collapse, increased bleeding and even death. Therefore, general anesthesia is considered a high-risk procedure in patients with mast cell disease. It is critical that all members of the patient’s operating team take proper precautions before, during, and after surgery to protect against

potentially life-threatening mast cell activation



It is imperative that good communication is established between the patient, referring physician, surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, and all others involved in the patient’s care before, during, and after surgery. The surgeon must be aware of the patient’s mast cell disease and inform themselves of the measures necessary to keep the patient as free of symptoms as possible. Additionally, the patient should contact the anesthesiologist assigned to their care as soon as possible after surgery has been scheduled. Both regional and general anesthetics can cause lifethreatening complications. An experienced anesthesiologist is aware of medications known to cause mast cell

degranulation and medications that stabilize mast cells. If the patient is satisfied that their anesthesiologist fully understands the importance of planning around the mast cell disease, it will go a long way toward calming the patient, which in turn may reduce mast cell mediator release.

Symptoms should be as well-controlled as possible in the days prior to surgery. The patient should carefully avoid known triggers of mast cell activity and should take their medications as prescribed. Those medications include H1 and H2 histamine receptor blockers such as Allegra (H1) and Zantac (H2). A mast cell stabilizer such as disodium cromoglycate or ketotifen, and medications targeting other mast cell mediators should be taken regularly if they are

part of the patient’s normal drug regimen.

The patient’s complete medication list should be reviewed by the surgical team prior to surgery and any necessary medication changes should be thoroughly discussed with the patient. For example, if the patient regularly takes a

medication in the family known as beta blockers for blood pressure or heart rate abnormality, a change to another drug should be considered well before surgery is scheduled. Beta blockers are generally avoided in people with mast cell disease undergoing surgery because they interfere with an important natural control of mast cell activation.

These drugs may also interfere with the use of epinephrine, which may be required if the patient has a major release of mast cell mediators resulting in low blood pressure during surgery. Other drugs that may interfere with control of blood pressure during surgery must be carefully reviewed by the patient’s physician before the surgery. It may be necessary to perform a “graded challenge” procedure in the hospital under the supervision of an allergist and an anesthesiologist for certain medications if there is no history of exposure to that medication. This procedure usually starts with scratching the skin with a small amount of medication followed by injection of increasing amounts with careful monitoring after each injection. Resuscitation equipment and drugs including epinephrine must be readily available during the procedure.





For pre-operative control of anxiety and the reduction of mast cell activity, drugs in the valium family (diazepam, midazolam, lorazepam) are usually effective. Some procedures require the patient not to take anything by mouth including medications after midnight of the night before the surgery. In this case, H1 and H2 blockers should be administered intravenously prior to the surgery. The use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, has also been suggested although there is no evidence that the short-term use of steroids reduces the ability of mast cells to

release the chemicals contained in their granules. However, corticosteroids may reduce the extent of other inflammatory reactions that result from mast cell activation. A tube may be inserted into an artery and attached to a device allowing the anesthesiologist to vigilantly monitor

blood pressure without having to periodically inflate a blood pressure cuff. In addition, a tube is inserted into a vein and securely taped in place, with intravenous (IV) fluids running to keep the patient well-hydrated in all surgeries involving general anesthesia or conscious sedation. This tube will also make it possible to immediately administer any emergency medications that may be needed. In the operating room, the patient should not be allowed to become either too cold or over-heated. Warm blankets should be used, and all IV fluids should be warmed before they are given. In addition, there should be a minimum of noise and bustle around the patient prior to the administration of the anesthetic in order to reduce the possibility of anxiety-triggered mast cell mediator release.


An emergency situation may arise in which a person with mast cell disease requires immediate surgery. Wearing a MedicAlert bracelet could be a life-saver if this happens. Inscriptions vary depending upon the patient’s specific needs, but generally include the patient’s diagnosis and drug sensitivities. Emergency response team members can

access more detailed information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the MedicAlert organization by dialling the toll-free number on the bracelet. MedicAlert is a non-profit organization serving patients world-wide. There are nominal membership and annual fees with financial assistance available for those in need. For more information,

please visit or dial 888-633-4298 within the U.S. or 209-668-3333 from outside the U.S.

Alternatively, there are several companies that manufacture and inscribe medical identification jewellery. These products are available on the internet and are also carried by some jewellery stores and pharmacies. It may be wise to select jewellery which provides space for a miniature version of the patient’s medical history (often supplied

 there are several companies that manufacture and inscribe medical identification jewellery. These products are available on the internet and are also carried by some jewellery stores and pharmacies. It may be wise to select jewellery which provides space for a miniature version of the patient’s medical history (often supplied by

the manufacturer as part of the cost) in addition to the inscription. Although these companies do not have a 24 hour information center, they do not require membership or annual fees and may be preferable for some patients. It may also be helpful for mast cell patients to carry with them at all times emergency information, written on their physician’s letterhead, which contains a list of current medications and other instructions for treatment in the event of severe symptoms.


Constant attention from the anesthesiologist is required for the safety of a patient with mast cell disease during surgery, as some of the early symptoms of mast cell mediator release such as flushing, hives, and early signs of obstructed breathing can be masked by the surgical drapes covering much of the patient’s skin and by the use of an airway tube during anesthesia.

Should anaphylaxis occur during surgery, the drug thought to be responsible should be discontinued immediately and epinephrine should be administered. Airway support with 100% oxygen, IV replacement fluids to compensate for dilated blood vessels, H1 and H2 antihistamines, bronchodilators, and corticosteroids may also be given.

Continuous IV epinephrine and other “vasopressor drugs” may be necessary to keep blood pressure from falling.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not all hypotensive episodes during surgery are due to mast cell degranulation and anaphylaxis. A serum tryptase level obtained during the hypotensive episode and its comparison with pre-surgery or “baseline” level may be helpful to determine whether the episode is due to mast cell degranulation.


Records from prior surgeries should be examined and drugs tolerated in those procedures should be preferred if possible. Prior to the administration of any drugs associated with surgery, it is important that an IV is running, that

epinephrine is available for immediate intramuscular (IM) or IV administration, and that emergency equipment is

easily accessible in case of an adverse reaction.

IV preparations without preservative should be used.

Drugs to avoid include ethanol, dextran, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen

and toradol (unless the patient is already successfully taking a drug in this family), polymyxin B, amphoteracin B,

quinine, dextromethorphan, α-adrenergic blockers, β-adrenergic blockers, and anticholinergic drugs as well as

drugs mentioned in specific categories below.

Local anesthetics – True allergic reactions to local anesthetics resulting from mast cell degranulation are thought

to be rare. Skin testing and graded challenge protocols have been published and may be administered by an allergist

prior to the surgery if questions arise regarding the safe use of a local anesthetic in a patient. If possible,

preservative-free local anesthetic should be used in these tests, as the preservative often present in local anesthetics

can cause a mast cell reaction. In general, local anesthetics in the “ester” group should be avoided. This group

includes procaine, chloroprocaine, tetracaine, and benzocaine. Anaphylactic reactions to local anesthetics in the

“amide” group are rare. This group includes lidocaine, mepivacaine, prilocaine, bupivacaine, levobupivacaine, and


Muscle relaxants - Muscle relaxants are the most likely group of the anesthetic drugs to cause anaphylaxis.

Succinylcholine, D-tubocurarine, metocurine, doxacurium, atracurium, and mivacurium are more likely to cause a

severe reaction than rocuronium or the so-called nondepolarizing muscle relaxants such as pancuronium or

vercuronium. Some studies have reported increased numbers of anaphylactic reactions to rocuronium, however, so

it may not be appropriate as the first choice for patients with mast cell disease.

Induction drugs - These are medications given to initiate anesthesia. It is rare for mast cell activation to occur in

response to the use of propofol, ketamine, or the benzodiazepine drugs such as midazolam.

Inhaled anesthetics - Sevoflurane is an inhibitor of mast cell activation and is less likely to cause liver damage

than other inhaled anesthetics in this family.

Opiates and opioids - Oral opioid drugs for pain relief may be tolerated by some mast cell disease patients, but

their use should be approached with caution, beginning with very small doses. All drugs in this category are

capable of causing mast cell mediator release.


Surgery for a person with mast cell disease involves exposure to drugs and conditions that may trigger extensive

mast cell degranulation. It should be emphasized that it is often impossible to predict or avoid the risk of adverse

events which may occur in surgery due to the administration of drugs and the procedure itself. The risk can be

reduced, though, if the mast cell disease is brought to the attention of everyone involved in the patient’s care and

measures are taken to reduce the possibility of mast cell mediator release. Careful planning is important, beginning

from the time a need for surgery has been defined and continuing through the immediate pre-operative period,

anesthesia, surgery, and recovery. The choice of drugs is of major importance, and the anesthesiologist, the

surgeon, the nursing staff, the patient’s physician, and the patient should form a working team to ensure that

surgery presents the fewest possible dangers for the patient.

Neither The Mastocytosis Society nor the authors intend that this information replace medical advice

given by the patient’s doctor. Patients are encouraged to consult with their doctor regarding medications

and procedures related to surgery.


Hazards in operative management of patients with systemic mastocytosis; HW Scott Jr, WCV Parris, PC Sandidge,

JA Oates, LJ Roberts II; Annals of Surgery, May 1983;197(5):507-514

Anesthetic management of systemic mastocytosis: experience with 42 cases; WCV Parris, HW Scott, and

BE Smith; Anesthesia and Analgesia (1986)65:S117 (Abstract)

Urticaria Pigmentosa: An anesthetic challenge; Eric P Greenblatt, Linda Chen; Journal of Clinical Anesthesia,

March/April 1990;2:108-115

Mastocytosis: Perioperative considerations; VA Goins; AORN Journal December 1991;54(6):1229-1238

Anesthesia in a patient with malignant systemic mastocytosis using a total intravenous anesthetic technique;

A Borgeat and YA Ruetsch; Anesthesia and Analgesia (1998);86:442-444

Treatment of systemic mast cell disorders; AS Worobec; Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America (June


Treatment of mastocytosis: pharmacologic basis and current concepts; G Marone, G Spadaro, F Granata,

M Triggiani; Leukemia Research, July 2001;25:583-594

Mastocytose: Anesthésie générale par rémifentanil et sévoflurane; L Auvray, B Letourneau, M Freysz; Ann Fr

Anesth Réanim 2001;20:635-638 (article in French)

Mastocytosis: Current concepts in diagnosis and treatment; L Escribano, C Akin, M Castells, A Orfao,

DD Metcalfe; Annuals of Hematology (2002);81:677-690

Anaphylaxis during the perioperative period; DL Hepner and MC Castells; Anesthesia and Analgesia


The authors wish to thank Cem Akin MD, PhD, for his review of this article.

Copyright 2010. The Mastocytosis Society, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Valerie M. Slee, Chair, Board of Directors

23 Camelot Dr. Shrewsbury, MA 01545 • Phone: 508-842-3080 • Fax: 508-842-2051 • • Web:

The Mastocytosis Society • P.O. Box 731 • Brenham, TX 77834


Medical Emergency Response Plan

for Systemic Mastocytosis, Mast Cell Activation, and Anaphylaxis

If the patient presents with flushing, rash, hives, swelling, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting,

shortness of breath, wheezing or hypotension, respond with the following:


• Epinephrine 0.3 cc of 1/1000 and repeat 3x at 5-minute intervals if BP < 90 systolic (0.1 cc

for children under 12)

- Piriton -Chlorpherimine mealate -10mg IV (UK)

• Benadryl (Generic: diphenhydramine)(NOT CETERIZINE ) 25-50 mg (12.5-25 for children under 12) orally,

intramuscular or intravenously every 2—4 hours or (USA)

Atarax (Generic: hydroxizine) 25mg

(12.5 mg for children under 12) orally every 2—4 hours

-  Solucorcef ( generic hydrocortisone ) 200mg IV/IM (UK)

• Solu-Medrol (Generic: methylprednisolone) 120 mg (40 mg for children under 12) IV/IM

• Oxygen by mask 100% (15L) or nasal canula maximum 5l

• Albuterol nebulization


Call 999 / 911 and take the patient to the closest Emergency Room.


Add IV ranitidine if availble


Insert body text here ...

Detailed Surgical Guidelines

Some of the Drugs to Avoid may be given if absolutely necessary, if given

with a prep to stabilize mast cells. Please refer to one of our mast cell experts for



General Drugs 􀀁 Alcohol

􀀁 Amphoteracin B

􀀁 anticholinergic drugs

􀀁 Dextran

􀀁 Dextromethoraphan

􀀁 Ethanol

􀀁 Polymyxin B

􀀁 Quinine

􀀁 Vancomycin IV

􀀁 􀀁-adrenergic blockers

􀀁 􀀂-adrenergic blockers

Pain Medications 􀀁 Opioid narcotics (may be

tolerated by

􀀁 some individuals)

􀀁 Toradol

􀀁 Non-steroidal antiinflammatory

drugs (unless the

patient is

􀀁 already taking a drug from this


May be tolerated

􀀁 Fentanyl (may require adjunct

treatment with Zofran)

􀀁 Tramadol

Muscle Relaxants

High risk of anaphylaxis

Not tolerated

less anaphylaxis associated

􀀁 Pancuronium

􀀁 vercuronium


High anaphylaxis risk

􀀁 Atracurium

􀀁 Doxacurium

􀀁 D-tubocurarine

􀀁 Metocurine

􀀁 Mivacurium

􀀁 Succinylcholine


In between




Local Anesthetics

Not tolerated

􀀁 Benzocaine

􀀁 Chloroprocaine

􀀁 Procaine

􀀁 Tetracine



􀀁 Bupivacaine Lidocaine

􀀁 Mepicacaine

􀀁 Prilocaine

􀀁 Levobupivacaine

􀀁 Ropivacaine

Intraoperative Induction



􀀁 Ketamine

􀀁 Midazolam

􀀁 Propofol

Inhaled Anesthetics tolerated

􀀁 Sevoflurane

Please note: the majority of the information in this quick reference guide was taken from the article by Gould and

Park, and placed into this quick reference guide for ease of use by ER practitioners.


1. DVDs from the TMS Annual Conferences, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

2. What You Should Know About Anesthesia-It Could Save Your Life. Nancy Gould and Reg

     Premedication protocol

for major and

minor surgical procedures