Allergy to Ethylene Oxide in Chronic Hemodialysis Patients
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Almost a decade ago, a single chronic hemodialysis patient in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who was experiencing recurrent acute reactions during hemodialysis was found to have become allergic to ethylene oxide gas (EO). This observation recently provided a stimulus to examine the possibility that others exhibiting acute allergic-type reactions during hemodialysis might be similarly sensitized. Serum was obtained from 27 reacting patients and tested in a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) for antibodies to EO. The test was positive for 22 of these sera. EO-related specificity of the antibodies was confirmed. However, EO sensitization was not found in other hemodialysis patients with isolated eosinophilia. In a survey of the current Hamilton chronic hemodialysis population for EO-related antibodies, 9% had a positive allergy skin test and 12% had a positive RAST. The sensitized individuals had no distinctive symptoms. The lesser sensitivity of the skin test contrasts with usual findings in allergic individuals; however, the use of histamine and codeine in chronic hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients might well explain a reduced sensitivity of the EO-related allergy skin test. Chronic peritoneal dialysis could not be invoked as a source of sensitization. None of these patients had a positive skin test or RAST for EO-related antibodies that could be attributed to peritoneal dialysis.
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