Comparison of the rates of adverse drug reactions. Ionic contrast agents, ionic agents combined with steroids, and nonionic agents

Invest Radiol. 1991 May;26(5):404-10. doi: 10.1097/00004424-199105000-00003.


The influence of ionic agents alone, of diatrizoate plus two oral doses of methylprednisolone premedication, and of a nonionic agent (iohexol) upon the frequency and severity of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) was compared in ten hospitals during three separate time periods from 1985 to 1989. Nonionic agents were found to reduce significantly total ADRs; 52 of 8857 patients receiving nonionic agents experienced reactions, versus 263 of 6006 patients for ionics (P less than .0001). The frequency of reactions classed as mild (2.9% for ionic agents versus 0.476 for nonionic agents: P less than .001), moderate (1.2% versus 0.1%; P less than .001), or severe (0.37% versus 0.01%; P less than .001), also favored nonionic agents. Steroid premedication provided some protection, but iohexol was significantly better with respect to mild reactions (2.9% versus 0.4%, P less than .001), moderate reactions (0.9% versus 0.1%, P less than .01), and severe reactions (0.25% versus 0.01%, P less than .01). The contrast medium was the greatest risk factor for adverse reaction (odds ratio 7.3), while prior contrast reaction (odds ratio 6.25), and hay fever (odds ratio 2.3) were found to be significant independent risks. We conclude that nonionic agents are safer for intravenous use than ionic agents given alone or with corticosteroid premedication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Diatrizoate Meglumine / administration & dosage
  • Diatrizoate Meglumine / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iohexol / administration & dosage
  • Iohexol / adverse effects*
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Premedication*
  • Risk Factors
  • Urography


  • Diatrizoate Meglumine
  • Iohexol
  • Methylprednisolone