Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 257-259  

Intraoperative anaphylaxis to ranitidine during cesarean section

Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry, India

Date of Web Publication20-Feb-2013

Correspondence Address:
R Sripriya
Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry 607 402
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-9668.107321

Rights and Permissions

Ranitidine, a widely used drug, is known to be well tolerated. This case report illustrates a severe anaphylactic reaction after a single intravenous dose of 50 mg ranitidine during the emergency cesarean section under spinal anesthesia. Anaphylaxis was successfully managed with Inj. adrenaline, Inj. hydrocortisone, ventilatory, and inotropic support following which she had a full recovery. Awareness of this rare but fatal adverse reaction to this commonly used drug could help in early recognition of the event if faced suddenly.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis, cesarean section, ranitidine

How to cite this article:
Sripriya R, Hemanth Kumar V R, Prabhu R, Ravishankar M. Intraoperative anaphylaxis to ranitidine during cesarean section. J Nat Sc Biol Med 2013;4:257-9

How to cite this URL:
Sripriya R, Hemanth Kumar V R, Prabhu R, Ravishankar M. Intraoperative anaphylaxis to ranitidine during cesarean section. J Nat Sc Biol Med [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Jan 21];4:257-9. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Anaphylactic reactions during anesthesia are rare, but can be fatal if not promptly recognized and treated. Reactions can vary in severity and presentation. Drugs used for premedication, anesthetic agents, plasma expanders, and antibiotics used in the perioperative period can all cause anaphylaxis. [1] Anaphylaxis is a serious event, diagnosed clinically and the treatment has to be instituted immediately. All anesthesiologists should be familiar with an algorithm for treatment of anaphylaxis. [2] Herewith we present a case of intraoperative anaphylaxis during the cesarean section. The sequence of occurrence of events after Inj. ranitidine administration suggested that anaphylaxis was probably due to it.

   Case Report Top

A 25-year-old, 55-kg ASA-1 primigravida with no past history of drug allergy was posted for the emergency cesarean section for oligohydramnios. The patient was connected to monitors and co-loaded with 500 ml of lactated ringer solution, while 1.8 ml of hyperbaric bupivacaine was administered using a 25G spinal needle to achieve a sensory block level of T6. After baby delivery, 10U oxytocin was added to the IV fluids and the patient was sedated with Inj. midazolam 1 mg and Inj. pethidine 25 mg. As the uterus was atonic, Inj. methylergometrine 0.2 U was given intravenously slowly. After 5 min, 50 mg ranitidine hydrochloride was given intravenously. Immediately, the patient became restless, complaining of itching in upper limbs, face, and chest. She appeared flushed and was coughing. 100% oxygen was administered with face mask, with closed circuit, and the tidal volume was found to be adequate. Auscultation showed the presence of mild bilateral wheeze. We suspected an allergic reaction and as the patient was hemodynamically stable, Inj. pheneramine maleate 50 mg, Inj. hydrocortisone 100 mg, and Inj. deriphylline 220 mg (etofylline and theophylline hydrate) were given intravenously immediately. Within minutes, peripheral pulses became feeble, the heart rate increased from 68 to 130/min, consciousness deteriorated, and respiration was inadequate and non-invasive blood pressure was showing cuff error.

A probable diagnosis of anaphylactic shock was made and Inj. adrenaline 1 ml of 1:10,000 was given intravenously and 500 ml lactated ringer solution was rushed. Simultaneously, intubation was accomplished with 7.0 mm ID cuffed oral ETT, after administering Inj. midazolam 2 mg, Inj. fentanyl 40 mcg. and Inj. succinylcholine 75 mg. With a second bolus of Inj adrenaline, peripheral pulses began to improve and blood pressure recorded as 80/61 mmHg. Second intravenous access was secured and Inj. adrenaline infusion 0.1 mcg/kg/min was started and continued postoperatively to prevent effects of residual histamine release. The patient was shifted to the intensive care unit for ventilatory support. Bedsides echocardiography showed empty cardiac chambers. Ultrasound-guided right internal jugular vein cannulation was performed, and the central venous pressure was 3 cm H 2 O. Then, 500 ml lactated ringer solution and 500 ml 6% hydroxyethyl starch were administered in 30 min resulting in the reduction of the pulse rate from 154 to 122/min and an increase of the blood pressure from 80/55 to 102/69 mmHg. Adrenaline infusion was continued and slowly tapered over the next 8 h. The patient was weaned from the ventilatory support and was extubated the next morning. Further course was uneventful, and the patient was discharged on the 10 th postoperative day with an advice to come back after 4 weeks for an intradermal skin testing in the intensive care unit to confirm that ranitidine produced anaphylaxis. The patient and her relatives were alerted and educated that ranitidine was the probable cause for the event.

   Discussion Top

Perioperative anaphylaxis is an unanticipated acute event which needs early recognition. As most of the patients are sedated and covered with drapes, early cutaneous signs of anaphylaxis are often missed, making bronchospasm, and cardiovascular collapse as the first recognized signs of anaphylaxis. Recognition of anaphylaxis during the cesarean section is further delayed because key features such as hypotension, tachycardia, and bronchospasm are also seen in amniotic fluid embolism, peri-partum cardiomyopathy, and aspiration. Drugs commonly involved in perioperative anaphylaxis as described by Laxenaire et al. [1] are described in [Table 1].
Table 1: Drugs involved in perioperative prophylaxis

Click here to view

Allergic reactions can be mild, presenting with bronchospasm, flushing and mild hypotension requiring only intravenous fluids and Inj. ephedrine or may be severe, presenting with life-threatening cardiovascular collapse that requires aggressive treatment with intensive care and organ support. [3] Adkinson et al. described various clinical manifestations of anaphylaxis under anesthesia [4] which are described in [Table 2].
Table 2: Clinical manifestations under anesthesia

Click here to view
Anaphylactic reaction can be recognized early under regional anesthesia when compared to general anesthesia.

Ranitidine is a H 2 receptor antagonist with an excellent safety profile. [5] It is widely used in obstetric cases for aspiration prophylaxis. Anaphylactoid reactions due to ranitidine had been reported in obstetric patients. [6],[7],[8] Demirkan et al. have reported three cases of anaphylactic reaction due to ranitidine of 8304 first referral patients over a 13-year-period whose incidence is around 0.3-0.7%. [9]

The appearance of flushing and pruritus and the rapidity of development of events sequentially after administration of ranitidine were in favor of anaphylaxis to it. The response to Inj. adrenaline was dramatic, which further confirmed our diagnosis. Had it been general anesthesia, it would have been more difficult to pin-point which drug was the cause as most of the anesthetic agents are implicated in anaphylaxis.

The blood tests to confirm anaphylaxis such as serum tryptase level and radio-allegro-sorbent tests (RAST) could not be done due to unavailability of these tests in our institute. An intradermal skin testing was planned in the intensive care setting after 4 weeks, but the patient was not willing for the test due to her dreadful experience and so testing could not be done to confirm that ranitidine was the definite cause.

   Conclusion Top

Anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions during anesthesia occur rarely making individual anesthesiologists encounter only a few cases in their working lifetimes. The possibility of anaphylaxis must be specifically considered whenever flushing or urticaria, or sudden hypotension or bronchospasm occurs. Following an algorithmic approach in the management of anaphylaxis should prevent mortality and morbidity resulting from the reaction. Awareness of this rare but fatal adverse reaction to ranitidine, a commonly used drug, could help in early recognition of the event if faced suddenly.

   References Top

1.Laxenaire MC, Mertes PM, Benabes B. Anaphylaxis during anesthesia: Result of a two year survey in France. Br J Anaesth 2001;87:549-58.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Resuscitation UK. Anaphylaxis algorithm- [homepage on the Internet]. [Last updated on 2011 Sep 05]. Available from  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Hepner DL, Castells MC. Anaphylaxis during the perioperative period. Anesth Analg 2003;97:1381-95.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Adkinson F, Pongracic J. Drug allergy. In: Holgate ST, Church MK, Lichtenstein LM, editors. Allergy. 2 nd ed. London: Mosby; 2001. p. 155-62.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Frampton JE, McTavish D. Ranitidine. A pharmcoeconomic evaluation of its use in acid related disorders. Pharmcoeconomics 1994;6:57-89.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Barry JE, Madan R, Hewitt PB. Anaphylactoid reaction to ranitidine in an obstretic patient. Anesthesia 1992;47:360-1.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Powell JA, Maycock EJ. Anaphylactoid reaction to ranitidine in an obstretic patient. Anesth Intensive Care 1993;21:702-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Geer IA, Fellows K. Anaphylactoid reaction to ranitidine in labour. Br J Clin Pract 1990;44:78.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Demirkan K, Bozkurt B, Karakaya AF. Anaphylactic reaction to drugs commomly used for gastrointestinal system diseases: 3 case reports and review of literature. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006;16:203-9.  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Medication contaminants as a potential cause of anaphylaxis to vincristine: What about drug-specific antigens?
Nicholas G. Kounis,Ioanna Koniari,George Soufras,Emmanouil Chourdakis,Anastasios Roumeliotis,Nicholas Patsouras,George Hahalis
Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2017; : e26850
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Case report: management of differential diagnosis and treatment of severe anaphylaxis in the setting of spinal anesthesia
Brian M. Osman,Joni M. Maga,Sebastian M. Baquero
Journal of Clinical Anesthesia. 2016; 35: 145
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Ranitidine-induced anaphylaxis: clinical features, cross-reactivity, and skin testing
K. H. Park,J. Pai,D.-G. Song,D. W. Sim,H. J. Park,J.-H. Lee,K. Y. Jeong,C.-H. Pan,I. Shin,J.-W. Park
Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2016; 46(4): 631
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded287    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal