The Controversy of Contrast-Induced Nephropathy With Intravenous Contrast: What Is the Risk?

Am J Kidney Dis. 2020 Jan;75(1):105-113. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2019.05.022. Epub 2019 Aug 28.


Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) has long been observed in both experimental and clinical studies. However, recent observational studies have questioned the prevalence and severity of CIN following intravenous contrast exposure. Initial studies of acute kidney injury following intravenous contrast were limited by the absence of control groups or contained control groups that did not adjust for additional acute kidney injury risk factors, including prevalent chronic kidney disease, as well as accepted prophylactic strategies. More contemporary use of propensity score-adjusted models have attempted to minimize the risk for selection bias, although bias cannot be completely eliminated without a prospective randomized trial. Based on existing data, we recommend the following CIN risk classification: patients with estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFRs) ≥ 45mL/min/1.73m2 are at negligible risk for CIN, while patients with eGFRs<30mL/min/1.73m2 are at high risk for CIN. Patients with eGFRs between 30 and 44mL/min/1.73m2 are at an intermediate risk for CIN unless diabetes mellitus is present, which would further increase the risk. In all patients at any increased risk for CIN, the risk for CIN needs to be balanced by the risk of not performing an intravenous contrast-enhanced study.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury (AKI); CT angiogram (CTA); CT scan; contrast media (CM); contrast nephrotoxicity; contrast-enhanced CT (CECT); contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN); imaging; nephropathy; postcontrast AKI; review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Administration, Intravenous / statistics & numerical data
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage*
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Arterial / statistics & numerical data
  • Mortality
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Contrast Media