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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2014 May;202(5):966-70. doi: 10.2214/AJR.13.12010.

Safety of ultrasound contrast agents in the pediatric oncologic population: a single-institution experience.

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1 Department of Radiological Sciences, MS 220, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Pl, Memphis, TN 38105.



Little information is available regarding the safety of ultrasound contrast agents in children. The purpose of this article was to assess the safety profile of the i.v. administration of ultrasound contrast agents in the pediatric oncology population.


Patients with pediatric solid malignancies who were enrolled on institutional clinical trials conducted between June 2003 and January 2013 and who met our institutional screening criteria for contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) were eligible. After providing informed consent or assent for CEUS, subjects received i.v. bolus injections of one of two contrast agents for imaging of the primary tumor or a metastatic target lesion. Hemodynamic parameters, including heart rate, cardiac rhythm, and oxygen saturation, were monitored immediately before and for 30 minutes after the administration of the contrast agent. Interviews with the subject or a guardian were conducted by the principal investigator or a radiologist coinvestigator before and after the examination to assess for any adverse effects.


Thirty-four subjects (21 male and 13 female) ranging in age from 8 months to 20.7 years (median, 8.7 years) underwent 134 CEUS. No detrimental change in hemodynamic status occurred in any subject. Three subjects (3/134, 2.2%) reported mild transient side effects on one occasion each, two (2/134, 1.5%) had taste alteration, and one (1/134, 0.8%) reported mild transient tinnitus and lightheadedness. These reactions did not recur in these subjects on subsequent CEUS examinations.


The i.v. administration of ultrasound contrast agents is safe and well tolerated in the pediatric oncology population. Further studies in children are needed to confirm our findings.

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