Complications of intravenous immune globulin treatment in neurologic disease

Author(s): Brannagan TH 3rd, Nagle KJ, Lange DJ, Rowland LP

Abstract

Intravenous immune globulin (IVIg) is advocated as a safe treatment for immune-mediated neurologic disease. We reviewed the medical records of 88 patients who were given IVIg for a neurologic illness. Major complications in four patients (4.5%) included congestive heart failure in a patient with polymyositis, hypotension after a recent myocardial infarction, deep venous thrombosis in a bed-bound patient, and acute renal failure with diabetic nephropathy. Other adverse effects included vasomotor symptoms 26, headache 23, rash 5, leukopenia 4, fever 3, neutropenia 1, proteinuria (1.9 g/day) 1, viral syndrome 1, dyspnea 1, and pruritus 1. Fifty-two patients (59%) had some adverse effect of IVIg infusion, most commonly vasomotor symptoms, headaches, fever, or shortness of breath in 40 (45%), which improved with reduced infusion rate or symptomatic medications. Five (6%) had asymptomatic laboratory abnormalities and seven (8%) had other minor adverse effects. Adverse effects led to discontinuation of therapy in 16% and permanent termination of therapy in 10% of patients. There was no mortality or long-term morbidity. Although adverse effects were frequent, serious complications were rare except in patients with heart disease, renal insufficiency, and bed-bound state.

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