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Adverse reactions to contrast material: recognition, prevention, and treatment.

Adverse reactions to contrast agents range from a mild inconvenience, such as itching associated with hives, to a life-threatening emergency. Renal toxicity is a well known adverse reaction associated with the use of intravenous contrast material. Other forms of adverse reactions include delayed allergic reactions, anaphylactic reactions, and local tissue damage. Previous allergic reactions to contrast material, asthma, and allergies are factors associated with an increased risk of developing an adverse reaction. Pretreatment of patients who have such risk factors with a corticosteroid and diphenhydramine decreases the chance of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, renal failure, or a possible life-threatening emergency. Awareness of the different types of risk factors and prescreening for their presence allows for early recognition and prompt treatment. Prophylactic treatment before administration of contrast material can prevent potential adverse reactions. If such reactions do occur, prompt recognition allows them to be treated immediately. Using the smallest amount of contrast material possible and low-molecular, nonionic agents also decreases the relative risk of reactions. Renal insufficiency induced by contrast material may be prevented by ensuring adequate hydration and discontinuing other nephrotoxic medications before the procedure. Low-osmolar, nonionic agents are helpful in patients with known conditions associated with adverse reactions.

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