Background/aims: Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) is used to show areas of decreased pancreatic perfusion in severe acute pancreatitis (AP). To evaluate possible adverse effects of the contrast medium (CM) on the course of AP, the impact of intravenous CM in AP of graded severity in the rat was studied.
Methods: Pancreatitis of three levels of severity was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats with intravenous cerulein hyperstimulation plus time- and pressure-controlled intraductal infusion of saline or glycodeoxycholic acid. At 7 hours, control and pancreatitis animals received intravenous ionic CM, nonionic CM, or saline. The principal outcome measures were 24-hour survival, trypsinogen activation peptides (TAP) in ascites, and histological acinar necrosis score.
Results: There was no measurable effect of CM on the index features in control animals or animals with mild or moderate AP. In severe AP, CM caused a significant increase in mortality, ascites TAP, and necrosis score.
Conclusions: Intravenous CM increases pancreatic injury when administered early in the course of severe experimental AP. Because CM may convert borderline ischemia to irreversible necrosis, CECT performed early in pancreatitis to show poor perfusion and predict areas of necrosis may depict a self-fulfilling prophecy. Early CECT should be reconsidered and perhaps avoided.