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Radiology. 1998 Oct;209(1):183-90.

Mechanisms of severe, immediate reactions to iodinated contrast material.

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  • 1Laboratory of Medical Physics, Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire, Caen, France.



To measure and elucidate the mechanisms of presumed mediators of unexpected severe, immediate reactions to iodinated contrast materials.


In a multicenter study, 20 patients with mild to severe reactions to iodinated contrast material and 20 control subjects without reactions were evaluated. Ionic contrast material was associated with 18 (90%) of 20 reactions. Concentrations of plasma histamine, tryptase, urinary methylhistamine, specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) against ioxitalamate or ioxaglate, and the anaphylatoxins C3a and C4a were measured with radioimmunoassays; complement C3 and C4 levels were measured with nephelometry.


Histamine levels were increased in 14 patients; tryptase levels, in 16; and methylhistamine levels, in six. Histamine and tryptase values correlated with the severity of the reaction (P < .02 and P < .004, respectively). Significantly higher levels of specific IgE against ioxaglate (P < .005) and ioxitalamate (P = .045) were found in patients. No differences were found for complement fractions. Skin test results in two patients with life-threatening reactions were positive for the administered contrast material.


Histamine release and mast cell triggering are related to severe reactions. An IgE-related mechanism is strongly suspected. Radiologists should be trained to identify and treat anaphylactic shock in patients who react to iodinated contrast material.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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