Retrospective study of the management of chemotherapeutic extravasation injury

Howard N. Langstein, Haluk Duman, Deborah Seelig, Charles E. Butler, Gregory R.D. Evans

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88 Scopus citations


Despite the now widespread experience with the administration of chemotherapeutic agents in oncology, extravasation injuries still occur. Furthermore, the most appropriate management of such injuries is not known. The authors examined the current treatment options for extravasation injury and the incidence of this problem. All cases of extravasation referred to the plastic surgery service at one institution from 1994 through 1996 were examined. During a 6-year period there were 44 cases of extravasation injury identified in 42 patients. Comparison with a previous study conducted 15 years before at the same institution revealed a significant reduction in the incidence of extravasation injuries during that time (0.01% vs. 0.1%; p = 0.00). The site of extravasation was peripheral in 32 cases and central in 12. Paclitaxel and doxorubicin were the two most common drugs involved. The local infusion of antidotes was not performed routinely. Only 26 of the 42 patients were referred to the plastic surgery service for care. Only 10 of those 26 patients required local ulcer excision and closure to achieve a healed wound. The mean time between injury and referral was 40 days. This time did not predict the subsequent need for a surgical procedure. Most patients, including the remaining 16 referred to the plastic surgery service, did not require surgical intervention. All were watched expectantly, and their injuries healed spontaneously. In conclusion, the incidence of extravasation is decreasing, most likely as a result of the diligence in the administration and identification of extravasation injuries as well as the result of the use of more central infusion sites. Most cases can be managed conservatively, with directed surgical treatment of the ulceration when appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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