Objectives: To evaluate the time and type of treatment following extravasation from intravenous infusion and the sequelae of the injuries.
Method: The charts of 12 patients who were referred to the Plastic and Orthopaedic Services at the University Hospital of the West Indies were reviewed. The study period was between May 2003 and January 2007. Data were collected on age, gender, site of extravasation, extravasated agent, treatment of the extravasation, necrosis interval, duration of hospital stay for treatment of injury and whether the intravenous line was resited and at what site in relation to the injury.
Results: The age of patients ranged from three days to 67 years. The female-to-male ratio was 2:1. In five patients, the intravenous infusion was discontinued immediately after the swelling was noticed. In two patients, the intravenous infusion was stopped after seven hours and in five patients it was discontinued within 12 to 22 hours. The necrosis interval ranged from 12 hours to three weeks. Immediate treatment following extravasation and discontinuation of the infusion included limb elevation in three patients and application of cold compresses in one patient. Eleven patients developed skin necrosis of varying severities. There was no skin necrosis in one patient. Ten patients spent an average of 31 extra days in hospital for treatment of the extravasation injury. Two patients were treated in an out-patient clinic.
Conclusions: Extravenous leaks can cause severe tissue injuries. Morbidity is increased by delay in recognition and treatment of the extravasation. A protocol for the treatment of extravasation is recommended.