Antidotes to vesicant chemotherapy extravasations

Blood Rev. 1990 Mar;4(1):41-60. doi: 10.1016/0268-960x(90)90015-k.


The foregoing sections have reviewed the experimental studies and clinical anecdotes describing potential pharmacologic antidotes to extravasations of vesicant anticancer agents. Numerous prior reviews have also suggested specific antidotes or very conservative, non-pharmacologic approaches. Many antidotal approaches to extravasation have not been experimentally validated and thus, few 'antidotes' share a rationale which is founded on positive experimental and clinical studies. However, using this criteria, a few active antidotes can be distilled from the literature. These are outlined in Table 6. These antidotes include isotonic (1/6 M) sodium thiosulfate for mechlorethamine (and optionally for cisplatin), hyaluronidase for the vinca alkaloids (and optionally for epipodophyllotoxins such as etoposide), and cooling with very topical DMSO and low dose hydrocortisone for the anthracyclines. For the alkylating agent mitomycin C, topical DMSO has been effective experimentally but has not yet received clinical validation, at least in published studies. Nonetheless, the severity of mitomycin C ulcerations and the documented safety of topical DMSO in the small series of doxorubicin extravasation patients argues for its use when mitomycin extravasates in the clinic. Furthermore, except for DMSO, all of these extravasation antidotes are listed in the official FDA-approved package inserts for each vesicant agent. Thus, the inserts for vincristine and vinblastine specify hyaluronidase, for doxorubicin, glucocorticosteroids, and for mechlorethamine, sodium thiosulfate. New studies are clearly needed to clarify the role of topical DMSO with anthracyclines and mitomycin C. In addition, efforts should be made to begin clinical development of radical dimers such as DHM3 which can directly inactivate quinone-containing vesicants like doxorubicin and mitomycin C. Although the incidence of chemotherapy extravasation may be lessened with vascular access devices, it nonetheless, continues to comprise a serious and highly litigious area of oncology practice. This commands continued extravasation intervention studies and diligent prevention when ever possible.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidotes / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Blister / chemically induced*
  • Blister / prevention & control
  • Blister / therapy
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials* / complications
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials* / prevention & control
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Necrosis
  • Skin Ulcer / chemically induced*
  • Skin Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Skin Ulcer / therapy


  • Antidotes
  • Antineoplastic Agents