Risk of acute postoperative hypertension after topical photodynamic therapy for non-melanoma skin cancer

Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2013 Apr;29(2):73-7. doi: 10.1111/phpp.12019.


Background: Topical photodynamic therapy with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL-PDT) is a non-surgical treatment for actinic keratoses, Bowen's disease and basal cell carcinoma. MAL-PDT is particularly useful in elderly patients, who often present co-morbidities and/or in whom surgical excision could be contraindicated. MAL-PDT is generally well tolerated; the most frequent acute adverse events include pain and burning sensation localized to the treatment area. We describe our observation of the occurrence of acute postoperative hypertension (APH) and hypertensive crisis, after a MAL-PDT.

Methods: BP measurement was taken twice at 2-min intervals, both before and shortly after the MAL-PDT session. APH was defined as an increase in systolic BP by more than 20% or an increase in diastolic BP to above 110 mmHg. Hypertensive crisis was defined as a systolic BP ≥ 180 mmHg or a diastolic BP ≥ 110 mmHg, with or without acute target organ involvement.

Results: Prevalence of post-MAL-PDT APH was 22%; 11% of patients developed hypertensive crisis after MAL-PDT, requiring immediate treatment.

Conclusion: We highlight the importance of blood pressure measurement both before and after MAL-PDT session to identify high-risk patients and to prevent potentially severe organ involvement subsequent to hypertensive crisis.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / adverse effects
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Bowen's Disease / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Keratosis, Actinic / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Photochemotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • methyl 5-aminolevulinate
  • Aminolevulinic Acid