Background: Benzocaine induced methemoglobinemia is an uncommon, potentially fatal condition. Case report: A 44-year-old woman with a history of hepatitis C and intravenous drug use was referred for transesophageal echocardiography for bacteremia evaluation. During induction of topical anesthesia with benzocaine spray she became cyanotic. Pulse oximetry revealed marked desaturation (75%) but was discordant from arterial blood O2 saturation (99%). Due to clinical suspicion, methemoglobin level was measured and noted to be 69%. The patient was treated with 2 mg/kg of methylene blue intravenously with resolution of her symptoms. Conclusion: Physicians using topical anesthesia in endoscopic suites should be aware of this rare, potentially life-threatening treatable condition. High clinical suspicion and availability of methylene blue in endoscopy suites will facilitate prompt diagnosis and treatment.
- Methylene blue
- Topical anesthetics
- Transesophageal echocardiography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine