Pretreatment with corticosteroids to alleviate reactions to intravenous contrast material

E C Lasser, C C Berry, L B Talner, L C Santini, E K Lang, F H Gerber, H O Stolberg
New England Journal of Medicine 1987 October 1, 317 (14): 845-9
The x-ray contrast mediums used over the past three decades have been salts of iodinated acids administered in highly hypertonic concentrations. We conducted a multiinstitutional randomized study of the protective effects of pretreatment with corticosteroids against reactions to intravenous contrast material. We gave 6763 patients two doses of oral corticosteroids (methylprednisolone, 32 mg) approximately 12 hours and 2 hours before challenge with contrast material, one dose of oral prednisolone approximately 2 hours before challenge, or placebo in the same dosages. The two-dose corticosteroid regimen, but not the one-dose regimen, significantly reduced the incidence of reactions of all types (P less than 0.05) except a category of reactions dominated by hives, for which the reduction approached significance (P = 0.055). In recent years, several relatively expensive monomeric nonionic iodinated compounds having approximately half the osmolality of the corresponding ionic compounds and a lower reaction rate have become available. With our two-dose corticosteroid regimen, the incidence of reactions necessitating therapy in patients receiving the ionic medium approximated that reported in an unblinded nonrandomized study of patients receiving a newer intravenous nonionic medium without corticosteroid pretreatment. We conclude that the much less expensive ionic medium, if administered with corticosteroid pretreatment, may serve as a reasonable alternative to intravenous nonionic medium, without loss of safety.

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