What are the possible complications of IVIG therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)?

Updated: Aug 11, 2020
  • Author: Francisco J Hernandez-Ilizaliturri, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Complications related to IVIG therapy include the following:

  • Increased serum viscosity and thromboembolic events, increased risk of migraine attacks, aseptic meningitis (10%), urticaria, pruritus, or petechiae (2-5 d postinfusion to 30 d postinfusion) can occur.

  • The most common adverse reactions are nonanaphylactic in nature and are characterized by back and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, and myalgias. Discontinue the infusion until the symptoms subside; then restart at a slower rate.

  • True anaphylactic reactions are rare and occur seconds to hours after the infusion is started. Typical symptoms consist of flushing, facial swelling, dyspnea, and hypotension. Stop the infusion, and administer epinephrine, steroids, and antihistamines together.

  • The risk of renal tubular necrosis is increased in elderly patients and in patients with diabetes, volume depletion, and preexisting kidney disease.

  • Transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is much less common now than in the past. Most patients who are HCV RNA–positive contracted their infection in the 1980s when serologic testing of blood donors for this infection was not available. Chronic liver disease in these patients is characterized by a severe clinical course, particularly in those with CVID.

    • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis G virus (HGV) seem to play minor roles in the pathogenesis of chronic liver disease in these patients.

    • A milder form of chronic liver disease with negative serology for HCV, HBV, and HGV infections has been described in these patients. This form occurs, on average, 36 months after the beginning of IVIG therapy, and it is thought to be related to immune phenomena or to a viral infection not yet described.

    • A few non-HCV, non-HBV, and non-HGV patients have a particularly severe course, and granulomatous disease of the liver has been identified in most of them.

    • Lymphoma, especially Burkitt lymphoma, has been reported in patients with ADA deficiency, including those who received prolonged PEG-ADA replacement therapy.

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