Volume 10 Supplement 1

Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting 2013

Open Access

Tryptase levels in children presenting with anaphylaxis to the Montreal Children’s Hospital

  • Michelle Halbrich1Email author,
  • Ann Clarke2, 3,
  • Sebastian La Vieille4,
  • Harley Eisman5,
  • Reza Alizadehfar1,
  • Joseph Lawrence2, 6,
  • Chris Mill2,
  • Judy Morris7 and
  • Moshe Ben-Shoshan1
Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology201410(Suppl 1):A66


Published: 3 March 2014


There are little data on the role of tryptase in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis. We aimed to assess the sensitivity of elevated tryptase levels (>11.4) as defined in the current medical literature to diagnose anaphylaxis and to identify factors associated with elevated tryptase levels.


Children presenting with anaphylaxis to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department (ED) between April 2011 and April 2013 were recruited. The treating physician documented symptoms, triggers, and management of the anaphylactic reactions. Total tryptase levels were measured 30-120 minutes following onset of symptoms. Charts of all ED patients were reviewed to identify cases that were missed in prospective recruitment. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the association between an elevated tryptase level and age, gender, reaction trigger, reaction severity, and history of atopy.


Of 398 anaphylaxis cases (203 of whom were recruited prospectively), 84 children had serum tryptase levels measured. Age, gender, anaphylactic trigger, and severity of reaction were comparable between cases with and without tryptase measurements. However, there was higher percentage of patients treated with epinephrine in hospital in the group with tryptase measurements. The median age of these 84 children was 5.1 years (IQR 1.3, 12.3), 40.4% were females, 78.6% identified food as the potential anaphylactic trigger, and 7.1% experienced a severe reaction.. The mean tryptase level was 6.9 ng/mL (4.5, 8.0). Only 13 patients [15.5% (95%CI, 8.8,25.4)] had elevated levels. Severe reactions and history of eczema were associated with elevated levels ( OR =115.4 (95%CI,8.7,1527.8) and 14.2(95%CI,2.6,78.5) respectively.


Our results do not support the use of total tryptase as a diagnostic tool in children with anaphylaxis. Given the poor sensitivity (13/84 = 15%) of the current tryptase threshold, new laboratory tests need to be developed to help establish the diagnose of anaphylaxis accurately. Severe reactions and presence of eczema are associated with high levels, but wide confidence intervals preclude definitive conclusions for the other risk factors we investigated.

Authors’ Affiliations

Division of Paediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Paediatrics, McGill University Health Centre
Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre
Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre
Food Directorate, Health Canada
Montreal Children’s Hospital, Emergency Department, McGill University Health Centre
Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University
Department of Emergency Medicine, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Université de Montréal


© Halbrich et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.