Methemoglobinemia Secondary to Topical Benzocaine Application to Gastrostomy Site

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Benzocaine is a common topical anesthetic that has the ability to induce methemoglobinemia (MetHgb) in large doses. We describe a 4-year-old girl who received a standard dose of topical benzocaine to her gastrostomy mucosa that resulted in rapid, severe MetHgb. She required intubation, mechanical ventilation, and multiple doses of methylene blue for treatment. The resultant tissue hypoxia from MetHgb caused profound confusion, cyanosis, and myocardial infarction. Although the patient did not sustain any permanent disability, this case demonstrates the need for emergency providers to rapidly identify and treat MetHgb to reverse tissue hypoxia and prevent long-term sequelae.

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