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Musculoskeletal Services

Epoprostenol (Flolan) Infusion

This information is offered as a guide to you and your family offering information on this treatment. Your treatment will be fully explained by your doctor or nurse, who will be happy to answer any questions.

Your doctor has suggested that you may benefit from an epoprostenol infusion.

What is an epoprostenol infusion?

Epoprostenol is a prostacycline. Prostacyclines are a group of drugs that relax your arteries and veins. These are otherwise known as vasodilators. This allows more blood to get into your fingers and toes, and so may help them to feel warmer. They may also reduce the tendency for the blood vessels to go into spasm causing Raynaud’s disease.

Who benefits?

Most people with Raynaud’s disease, scleroderma and some other connective tissue diseases are suitable for this treatment. We hope the benefit will last for at least six weeks.

How is it given?

Epoprostenol (Flolan) is given through your veins. The cannula (fine tube) will usually be inserted into your hand or arm. Therefore you will need to come to
hospital if you decide to have this treatment. This may be as a day case or in some situations we recommend that it may be better to stay in hospital for the infusions.

This depends on your home situation and how you respond to the infusions whether or not you have any side effects. The course of treatment may take 3-5 days
depending on your condition and the severity of your disease. The dose given depends on your weight. We gradually increase the dose to give maximum benefit.
Each infusion takes around six hours each day.

During the course of the infusion the nurse will monitor your blood pressure, temperature & pulse.

What are the side effects?

Possible side effects are:

  • nausea (for which anti-sickness medication can be given).
  • headaches
  • flushing and dropping of blood pressure which can make you feel dizzy.
  • You may also experience some muscle pain and tenderness in your jaw and face.

Epoprostenol can also make you feel unwell but only for the time the infusion is being given. If you start to get side effects it is important to tell the nursing staff so
we can either slow down or stop the infusion. Virtually all side effects will have gone within a half hour from the end of the infusion. The infusion can be restarted
(possibly at a lower dose) after discussion between you and the nurse and sometimes the doctor.

Many people have problems during the infusion, however they usually feel so much better afterwards that they ask for epoprostenol when they feel it is needed. We can repeat the infusions when necessary. There is no evidence to suggest that people become sensitive to them.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding your treatment or side effects please contact:

Dr Bridget Griffiths’ Secretary: 0191 2137978 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm) or
Dr Ian Griffiths’ Secretary: 0191 2137996 (Monday and Tuesday 9.00am-4.30pm)

Thursday and Friday Karen Walker (Connective Tissue Disease Nurse Specialist): 0191 2231503 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm)

Michelle Rutherford (Staff Nurse, Ward 20 Day Unit): 0191 2336161 Ext 27752

For further information

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