Contrast nephropathy

Am J Nephrol. 1981;1(2):69-77. doi: 10.1159/000166493.


Contrast nephropathy is an adverse alteration in renal function induced by intravascular contrast media. Most cases involve transient asymptomatic episodes; yet a significant number involve oliguria and/or permanent renal damage. The incidence of contrast nephropathy in the general hospitalized population is about 5%, and is associated with preexisting renal insufficiency and diabetes mellitus. The incidence in patients with normal renal function is significantly lower - 0.6% following IVP and 2% following angiography. Angiography carries risks inherent to the technical problems of the procedure itself. Preexisting renal insufficiency is the most significant predisposing condition of contrast nephrotoxicity. As many as two-thirds of patients with chronic renal failure may experience an acute deterioration in renal function following exposure. Most of these episodes are transient and benign. Diabetic patients with preexisting renal insufficiency are at an even greater risk; about 75% of such patients will experience renal complications. The risk is even higher in JODM patients with severe renal disease; there is an over 90% incidence of nephrotoxicity with as many as half sustaining permanent renal damage. Adequate hydration does not appear to reduce the incidence of contrast nephropathy in susceptible patients, but it may reduce the likelihood of oliguria and permanent damage. In multiple myeloma the risk of contrast-induced renal failure is low, and probably involves a different pathogenesis than seen in other cases of contrast nephropathy. The incidence in myeloma patients is probably increased in the presence of dehydration and renal insufficiency. Peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, old age and large and repeated doses of contrast may increase the risk in susceptible patients. Prevention of contrast nephropathy must start with identification of patients at risk. In patients with preexisting renal insufficiency, and especially diabetic patients with preexisting renal insufficiency, the anticipated benefit should outweigh the potential risk of exposure to contrast media.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Dehydration / complications
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / complications
  • Diatrizoate / administration & dosage
  • Diatrizoate / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Iopanoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Iopanoic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Multiple Myeloma / complications
  • Risk
  • Urography
  • Vascular Diseases / complications


  • Diatrizoate
  • Iopanoic Acid