Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Post-Operative Contact Dermatitis

Abstract: 63 yo woman with 5 day history of a dermatitis

HPI: A 63 yo woman developed a dermatitis 2 d post surgery. An arterial line had been placed in the L. radial artery pre-op. The area was first prepped with chlorhexidine, the line was placed, and the area covered with 6 x 7 cm Tegaderm Film. A venous line was placed in the R. external jugular vein and covered with Tegaderm w/o dermatitis.

O/E: An 8 x 8 cm erythematous vesicular and hemorrhagic plaque is seen in the area under the Tegaderm. Island of sparing in center of patch is where angiocath resided. This plaque is cool to touch. Neck completely clear.

Clinical Photos:

Lab and Pathology: Not deemed necessary at this time.

Diagnosis: Irritant vs. Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Not likely Tegaderm since area under patch on neck is clear. I am considering a toxic burn from chlorhexidine under wrist patch. (see Addendum)

Questions: What are your thoughts?

Addendum: The anesthesiologist reviewed his notes and found that he applied Tincture of Benzoin to the area around the arterial line to help keep the Tegaderm in place, but not on the neck for the venous line. Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Benzoin is well-reported. This seems to be the culprit here. Hopefully, wet compresses followed by clobetasol 0.05% ointment will be helpful. We are indebted to the anesthesiologist for reviewing the operative record and educating us! We will patch test her once her eruption has quieted down.

References: (Free Full Text)
1. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2006 Jan-Feb;72(1):62-3.
Contact dermatitis to compound tincture of benzoin applied under occlusion.
Lakshmi C, Srinivas CR.

2. BMC Dermatol. 2004 Mar 31;4:1.
Severe facial dermatitis as a late complication of aesthetic rhinoplasty; a case report.
Rajabian MH, Sodaify M, Aghaei S.
Department of Plastic Surgery Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz


  1. Thanks for the educational post, David. Will keep this in mind when securing my A-lines!

  2. I saw a patient recently who underwent a hysterectomy and noticed post-op an area of toxic burn on the lower back where the anesthetist cleanse the area with spirit and the excessive spirit dripped downwards and got burned at the area near the diathermy pad. These are some of the under reported complications of GA.


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