Vesicant extravasation: myths and realities

Oncol Nurs Forum. 1995 Jan-Feb;22(1):57-67.


Purpose/objectives: To provide a comprehensive review of the literature pertinent to the phenomenon of antineoplastic vesicant extravasation within the framework of common misconceptions held by oncology nurses.

Data sources: National guidelines, published articles in professional specialty journals and proceedings, and the authors' clinical experiences in the care of patients receiving vesicant agents.

Data synthesis: Antineoplastic vesicant extravasation can result in significant morbidity, severely limiting quality of life for patients with cancer. It also is a liability concern for oncology nurses. Many unanswered questions regarding extravasation exist because the phenomenon is difficult to study in humans and actual extravasation injuries are both sporadic and underreported. The incidence of extravasation from vascular access devices is unknown. Similarly, many recommended management strategies are empirically based. Misconceptions about the nature of extravasation injuries and the manner in which they should be managed contribute to poor patient outcomes and increased liability.

Conclusions: The disproval of 10 myths regarding the nature and management of vesicant extravasation is an adjunctive step in the translation of existing national guidelines to workable institutional standards and appropriate professional practice.

Nursing implications: Oncology nurses are in a strategic position to observe the feasibility and efficacy of prevention and management guidelines established at national and local levels. Oncology nurses involved in the administration of antineoplastic vesicant agents are responsible for maintaining a current knowledge base about vesicants and for planning nursing care within the established standards of practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials / etiology
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials / nursing*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Oncology Nursing / education
  • Oncology Nursing / methods
  • Skin Ulcer / chemically induced


  • Antineoplastic Agents