The prevalence of latex sensitivity among anesthesiology staff

Anesth Analg. 1997 Mar;84(3):629-33. doi: 10.1097/00000539-199703000-00031.


Reports dealing with allergic reactions to latex among health care professionals are increasing steadily. This study is the first epidemiological investigation of latex allergy among anesthesia staff. We tested 101 persons of the staff of the Institute of Anesthesiology, Kantonsspital, Lucerne, Switzerland, using a standardized questionnaire, prick test (latex extract), scratch test (latex glove), and immunoglobin E (IgE) analysis. Sixteen of 101 persons (15.8%) had a positive skin test. Two of them had a positive radioallergosorbent test (RAST) Class II, and one person was Class I. Risk factors were a history of atopy (P < 0.001) and positive skin tests on atopy screening (P = 0.016). IgE levels were increased in the latex-sensitive group. Three of the 11 sensitized persons (total sensitized persons 16) who performed spirometry had significantly reduced expiratory peak flow values during working hours. It is concluded that anesthesiology staff is at high risk of allergic sensitization to latex. The most important risk indicator was an atopy. Skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests (i.e., specific antibodies, IgE).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Latex / immunology*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology*
  • Skin Tests


  • Latex