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Radiology. 1992 Apr;183(1):105-10.

Nonionic low-osmolality versus ionic high-osmolality contrast material for intravenous use in patients perceived to be at high risk: randomized trial.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, General Hospital, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.


To determine the cost-effectiveness of selective use of nonionic low-osmolality contrast material, the authors randomly assigned 955 patients to receive high-osmolality and 1,158 to receive low-osmolality intravenous contrast material. All patients had one or more of the following perceived risk factors for adverse reactions: prior reaction to contrast material, allergies, asthma, diabetes, cardiac or renal disease, anxiety, severe illness, and age greater than 50 years. The occurrence of any adverse event, need for therapy, or subjective symptoms was assessed in a double-blind fashion. An adverse reaction necessitating the attention of a physician occurred in 3.9% (n = 37) of patients in the high-osmolality and 0.9% (n = 10) of patients in the low-osmolality groups (P less than .000005). Therapy was administered to 1.4% (n = 13) and 0.5% (n = 6), respectively (P = .035). The difference was due to a reduction in urticaria and other mild anaphylactoid reactions. In a multivariate analysis, only prior reactions and allergy were independent risk factors. Selective use of intravenous nonionic contrast material is best justified in those with prior reactions, allergy, or asthma; at least 67% of reactions would be prevented.

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