Cefazolin Hypersensitivity: Toward Optimized Diagnosis

Astrid P. Uyttebroek, Ine I. Decuyper, Chris H. Bridts, Antonino Romano, Margo M. Hagendorens, Didier G. Ebo, Vito Sabato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Correct diagnosis of cefazolin hypersensitivity is not straightforward, mainly because of the absence of in vitro tests and uncertainties concerning the optimal cefazolin concentration for skin testing. Cross-reactivity studies suggest cefazolin hypersensitivity to be a selective hypersensitivity. Objective The first objective was to confirm that the application of a higher than 2 mg/mL test concentration could increase skin test sensitivity. A second part aimed at investigating the cross-reactivity between cefazolin and other β-lactam antibiotics. Methods A total of 66 patients referred to our clinic after experiencing perioperative anaphylaxis, and exposed to cefazolin, underwent skin testing with cefazolin up to 20 mg/mL. Patients exhibiting a positive skin test with cefazolin had a panel of skin tests with other β-lactams and, if indicated, graded drug challenges to study cross-reactivity. Results Increasing skin test concentration from the recommended 2 mg/mL to 20 mg/mL identified an additional 7 of 19 (27%) patients, who would otherwise have displayed negative skin testing. The concentration was proven nonirritating in 30 cefazolin-exposed control individuals in whom an alternative culprit for perioperative anaphylaxis was identified. Graded challenge testing, after negative skin testing, displayed that all patients tolerated alternative β-lactam antibiotics (ie, amoxicillin, cephalosporins, monobactams, and carbapenems). Of them, 11 individuals also tolerated an alternative cephalosporin, suggesting that cefazolin hypersensitivity (generally) is a selective allergy. Conclusions Increasing cefazolin concentration for skin tests up to 20 mg/mL benefits the sensitivity of diagnosis. Furthermore, our data confirm that cefazolin hypersensitivity seems to be a selective allergy with good tolerance to other β-lactam antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1236
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Cefazolin hypersensitivity
  • Cross-reactivity
  • Perioperative anaphylaxis
  • Skin testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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