Rapid desensitization for non-immediate reactions in patients with cystic fibrosis

J Cyst Fibros. 2011 Jul;10(4):282-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Mar 9.


Non-immediate hypersensitivity reactions to antibiotics in patients with CF represent a real-life challenge for clinicians. Desensitization is often performed in patients who have exhausted all therapeutic options. Whilst desensitization is an established procedure for immediate reactions we assessed the outcomes and safety of desensitization for non-immediate reactions. We retrospectively reviewed 275 desensitization procedures in 42 patients with a range of non-immediate reactions to six commonly used antibiotics. Desensitization was performed using a 7-step rapid intravenous protocol on a normal medical ward. 250 (91%) of overall desensitization procedures were successful; however, this figure incorporates certain individuals having multiple successful procedures. Individual patient success ranged from 55% with tazocin through to 88% with tobramycin. In the 25 patients who failed desensitization the reactions were mild and the majority occurred within 48 h of starting treatment. Prophylactic anti-histamines and steroids did not reduce the risk of reaction. Whilst the mechanisms remain uncertain we can confirm that rapid desensitization is a safe and effective way of re-introducing an antibiotic to a patient with a non-immediate reaction.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents