Frequency, outcome, and appropriateness of treatment of nonionic iodinated contrast media reactions

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2008 Aug;191(2):409-15. doi: 10.2214/AJR.07.3421.


Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the frequency, outcome, and appropriateness of treatment of adults with acute allergiclike reactions related to IV-administered nonionic iodinated contrast media.

Materials and methods: For IV injections of nonionic iodinated contrast media between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2005, contrast reaction reports and medical records of patients in whom contrast reactions occurred were reviewed. Data collected included patient sex and age, symptoms, reaction manifestations, treatment, and long-term sequelae. The appropriateness and efficacy of patient management were assessed.

Results: Allergic-type reactions occurred in 545 (0.6%) of patients injected with nonionic iodinated contrast media: 418 (77%) reactions were mild, 116 (21%) were moderate, and 11 (2%) were severe. Two hundred twenty-one patients (41%) received treatment. The most commonly administered medication was diphenhydramine (145 patients or 27%). Corticosteroids were administered to 17 patients, nebulized albuterol to 16, and epinephrine to 15. Although 99% of the treatments did not result in any complication, three patients may have had short-term sequelae as a result of receiving a nonrecommended treatment.

Conclusion: Patients usually do well after developing acute allergiclike reactions to nonionic iodinated contrast media. Fortunately, in our series, this was true even in the rare cases in which the instituted treatment was considered to be inappropriate. Reacting patients rarely develop serious long-term sequelae.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Albuterol / therapeutic use
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Diphenhydramine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iohexol / adverse effects*
  • Iohexol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids / adverse effects*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Contrast Media
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids
  • Iohexol
  • iopromide
  • Diphenhydramine
  • iodixanol
  • Albuterol
  • Epinephrine