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Anaesthesia. 2008 Jun;63(6):626-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2008.05479.x.

Intravascular iodinated contrast media and the anaesthetist.

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University of Sydney, Department of Anaesthetics, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.


The use of intravascular iodinated contrast media (ICM) in radiological investigations is common. Increasingly, anaesthetists and intensivists are involved in the care of patients undergoing these investigations. Whilst the use of ICM is generally safe there are important adverse effects that need to be recognised and measures instigated to prevent or treat these effects. In patients at risk of developing adverse reactions it is important to consider alternative modes of imaging so that ICM can be avoided. Strategies for the prevention of ICM nephropathy should be considered in all patients receiving ICM. Currently intravascular volume expansion with 0.9% saline has the strongest evidence base. The use of isotonic sodium bicarbonate combined with N-acetylcysteine appears promising in providing further benefits. Although the use of N-acetylcysteine alone has not been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of ICM nephropathy it is cheap, has few adverse effects and it would seem reasonable to continue its use in conjunction with intravascular volume expansion. The routine use of corticosteroid and antihistamine premedication is not always effective in preventing general adverse reactions.

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