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Pharmacol Res. 2016 Aug;110:65-75. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2016.04.023. Epub 2016 May 9.

Contrast agents in diagnostic imaging: Present and future.

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University of Milano, ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano, Niguarda, Milan, Italy.
Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Milano, ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano, Niguarda, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:


Specific contrast agents have been developed for x ray examinations (mainly CT), sonography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Most of them are extracellular agents which create different enhancement on basis of different vascularization or on basis of different interstitial network in tissues, but some can be targeted to a particular cell line (e.g. hepatocyte). Microbubbles can be used as carrier for therapeutic drugs which can be released in specific targets under sonographic guidance, decreasing systemic toxicity and increasing therapeutic effect. Radiologists have to choose a particular contrast agent knowing its physical and chemical properties and the possibility of adverse reactions and balancing them with the clinical benefits of a more accurate diagnosis. As for any drug, contrast agents can cause adverse events, which are more frequent with Iodine based CA, but also with Gd based CA and even with sonographic contrast agents hypersensitivity reaction can occur.


Computerized tomography; Contrast agents; Diagnosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Sonography; Targeted therapy

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