Plasma clearance of iodine contrast media as a measure of glomerular filtration rate in critically ill patients

Crit Care Med. 2001 Aug;29(8):1544-50. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200108000-00008.


Objective: The selection of the optimal method for assessing renal function relies on the accuracy of the technique. Plasma clearance of nonradioactive iodine contrast media (i.e., iohexol or iopromide) has been suggested as a reliable alternative to the renal clearance of inulin for estimating glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The accuracy of this method when used with critically ill patients displaying different levels of renal function in an intensive care unit (ICU) has not, until now, been examined.

Design: The accuracy of double- and multiple-point iohexol or iopromide plasma clearances was compared with that of already established techniques for measuring GFR (creatinine clearance, formula clearance by Cockcroft and Gault) and with that of inulin clearance, which is regarded as the gold standard for the measurement of GFR.

Patients: Values were obtained from 31 ICU patients who exhibited a wide range of renal function (serum creatinine: 0.6-6.7 mg/dL).

Measurements: Inulin clearance was performed using the constant-infusion technique. Creatinine clearance was determined from 24-hr urine samples. The clearance formula was calculated according to Cockcroft and Gault's formula. Iohexol or iopromide were applied as a single intravenous dose, and blood samples were taken up to 6 hrs after the injection. Iodine concentrations were determined by radiographic fluorescence.

Results: Plasma clearance of iohexol/iopromide measured after the single injection of contrast media and that of the conventional inulin clearance was almost identical (y = 0.971x + 7.65, r2 =.96; n = 31). Two-point clearance of iohexol/iopromide (double sampling technique) was as reliable as the three-point clearance (three-slope-intercept method, y = 0.995x + 0.62, r2 =.999; n = 18). With respect to inulin clearance, GFR measurements determined by creatinine clearance or according to the formula given by Cockcroft and Gault revealed errors that increased proportionally (y = 1.03x, r2 =.88; n = 27; and y = 0.93x, r2 =.62; n = 31, respectively). It could also be shown that the accuracy of GFR measurements involving plasma clearance of iohexol was not greatly affected by the degree of renal insufficiency or the route by which contrast media were applied.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that the determination of plasma clearance of iohexol/iopromide is a simple, rapid, and accurate method that can indeed be used for estimating GFR in ICU patients with normal renal function or even different degrees of renal insufficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics*
  • Creatinine / urine*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Inulin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Iohexol / analogs & derivatives
  • Iohexol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged


  • Contrast Media
  • Iohexol
  • iopromide
  • Inulin
  • Creatinine