Phenylephrine 10% is used for pupillary dilatation and capillary decongestion. It had been advised to use a 2.5% concentration instead of 10% to guard against systemic reactions. Here, a case of severe systemic manifestation following conjuctival application of 2.5% phenylephrine is described.
A healthy adult was admitted for pterygium excision under ophthalmic blockade. Vital signs remained normal until a sponge soaked with phenylephrine 2.5% was applied over the excised pterygium to control bleeding. The patient developed bradycardia (heart rate of 30 bpm) and hypotension (pressure 80/40 mmHg), so intravenous atropine was given. This was followed by tachycardia (heart rate of 150 bpm) and hypertension (pressure 240/130 mmHg) and ECG showed ischaemic changes. Treatment included propofol, labetalol, frusamide, morphine and dexamethasone. The next day, a 12-lead ECG showed no ischaemic changes and the myocardial infarction screen was negative. Fundus examination showed no sign of papilloedema. This report emphasises that phenylephrine 2.5% is still dangerous, with unpredictable response.
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Competing interests: None.
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