Intrathecal tranexamic acid is a devastating error with mortality as high as 50%.
What did they find?
This review by Patel, Robertson & McConachie identified 21 published cases of inadvertent spinal TXA administration. Notably 10 patients died, and almost all suffered life-threatening side effects.
What are the common signs?
- Block failure.
- Severe back and buttock pain (universal).
- HT, tachycardia, arrhythmias, CVS collapse.
How should it be managed?
There are three components to managing intrathecal TXA:
- Treating TXA-induced seizures with anticonvulsants: magnesium; benzodiazepines; barbiturates (thiopentone); phenytoin; possibly propofol. Thiopentone infusion was frequently required to terminate seizures.
- Mitigate TXA neurotoxic effects: maintain head-up; CSF lavage to dilute TXA, infusing crystalloid at an interspace higher than an IT needle draining CSF, 10mL for 10mL, repeated up to 4 times.
- Haemodynamic monitoring & support
How does this happen?
In almost all cases ampoule identification error was the primary cause.
Human factor contributions identified were:
- Failure to check ampoule label.
- Similar ampoule appearance.
- Spinal catheter mistaken for IV (1).
- Lack of drug handling and storage policies.
- Storage of tranexamic acid with LA or lack of physical separation.
- Underestimating potential for error.
"All errors could have been prevented..."
Tranexamic acid (TXA) used in the management of post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) reduces maternal mortality without increase in thromboembolic events.
Another useful review of neuraxial tranexamic acid, although not indexed by pubmed. Full-text below:
Gupta et al., Tranexamic acid: Beware of anaesthetic misadventures, J Obst Anaesth Crit Care 2018.
A systematic review of 29 published cases of neuraxial obstetric drug errors, including four maternal deaths related to inadvertent intrathecall tranexamic acid.
What’s the first warning sign of an intrathecal drug error?
Block failure was the most frequent reported complication.
What were the most common human factors causing the errors?
- Similar drug ampoule appearance.
- Drug storage problems.
Any recommendations to reduce the risk of drug errors?
- Carefully read the ampoule before drawing up, and the syringe label before administering.
- Label syringes!
- Check labels with a second person or a device.
- Use non–luer lock connectors on all neuraxial catheters & devices.
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