The prevention of anaphylactoid reactions to iodinated radiological contrast media: a systematic review

BMC Med Imaging. 2006 Apr 27:6:2. doi: 10.1186/1471-2342-6-2.


Background: Anaphylactoid reactions to iodinated contrast media are relatively common and potentially life threatening. Opinion is divided as to the utility of medications for preventing these reactions. We performed a systematic review to assess regimes for the prevention of anaphylactoid reactions to iodinated contrast media.

Methods: Searches for studies were conducted in the Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and CENTRAL databases. Bibliographies of included studies and review articles were examined and experts were contacted. Randomised clinical trials that examined agents given prior to iodinated contrast material for the prevention of anaphylactoid reactions were included in the review. The validity of the included studies was examined using a component approach.

Results: Six studies met the inclusion criteria, but only one of these fulfilled all of the validity criteria. There were four studies that examined the use of H1 antihistamines, each was used to prevent anaphylactoid reactions to ionic contrast. The random effects pooled relative risk demonstrated a significant reduction in the overall rate of anaphylactoid reactions (RR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.18-0.9, p = 0.027). There were insufficient studies to produce a pooled statistic for the use of corticosteroids, however regimes of steroids (methylprednisolone 32 mg) given at least six hours and again two hours prior to the administration of contrast suggested a reduction in the incidence of anaphylactoid reactions.

Conclusion: In conclusion, there are few high quality randomised clinical trials that have addressed the question of the optimal methods to prevent allergic type reactions to iodinated radiological contrast media. Allowing for these limitations, the results suggest that H1 antihistamines given immediately prior to the administration of ionic contrast may be useful in preventing reactions to ionic contrast and are suggestive of a protective effect of corticosteroids when given in two doses at least six hours prior and again two hours prior to the administration of contrast, both ionic and non-ionic. These agents should be considered for use in patients who are at high risk of an anaphylactoid reaction to contrast media and for who prophylactic therapy is considered necessary. Further research is needed before definitive recommendations can be made.