Six years of epinephrine digital injections: Absence of significant local or systemic effects

Andrew E. Muck, Vikhyat S. Bebarta, Doug J. Borys, David L. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Study objective: Epinephrine autoinjectors are known to result in accidental digital injections. Treatment recommendations and adverse outcomes are based on case reports. The objective of our study is to determine the frequency of digit ischemia after epinephrine autoinjector digital injections. In addition, we describe the frequency of epinephrine digital injections, treatments used, adverse local effects, and systemic effects. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study on cases reported to 6 poison centers during 6 years, using a search of the Texas Poison Center Network database. Patients who had an epinephrine injection of the hand were reviewed, and digital injections were included. Variables collected included demographics, local and systemic effects, symptom duration, treatments used, comorbidities, and whether admission, surgery, or hand surgery consultation was used. One trained abstractor used a standard electronic data collection form. Results: There were 365 epinephrine injections to the hand identified for the 6-year period. Of these, 213 were digital injections, and 127 had follow-up. All patients had complete resolution of symptoms. None of the patients were hospitalized or received hand surgery consultation or surgical care. Significant systemic effects were not reported. Pharmacologic vasodilatory treatment was used in 23% (29/127) of patients. Ischemic effects were documented for 4 patients, and 2 of these had symptom resolution within 2 hours. All 4 patients received vasodilatory therapy and were discharged home, with complete resolution of symptoms. Conclusion: In our series of patients using poison center calls about digital epinephrine autoinjections, there were no cases in which clinically apparent systemic effects were recorded and few patients had ischemia. No patient was admitted or had surgery. Most clinicians did not use vasodilation medications or techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-274
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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