Anaphylactoid and anaphylactic reactions to iodinated contrast material

Allergy. 1999:54 Suppl 58:13-6.


Some adverse reactions to iodinated contrast material (ICM) are considered allergy-like, with cutaneous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive symptoms. Allergy-like reactions are usually unpredictable. Reactions are more frequent with ionic than with nonionic material, but the frequency of deaths is almost identical. In a recent study, 20 severe unexpected reactions to ICM, including 10 life-threatening reactions and one death, were investigated by measuring mediators in blood, within the first minutes or hours of reaction. The responsible ICMs were mostly ionic materials. Histamine and tryptase release correlated with the severity of the reaction. Specific IgE against the responsible ICM was significantly higher in reactors than in controls. A few patients had positive skin tests to the administered ICM, suggesting type-I allergic reaction. Only 2.4% and 3.1% of the cases yielded a positive IgE-RIA, in a second retrospective study which included 165 patients recruited during a 4-year period. In conclusion, IgE-mediated anaphylaxis is rare, but it may be one of the possible mechanisms of severe adverse reactions to ICM.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / chemically induced*
  • Anaphylaxis / metabolism
  • Chymases
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Histamine Release
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Iodine / adverse effects*
  • Iodine / immunology
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Skin Tests
  • Tryptases


  • Contrast Media
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Iodine
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • chymase 2
  • Chymases
  • Tryptases