Newer contrast agents found to be safe for children

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Newer iodine-containing contrast agents (nonionic contrast media) rarely produce allergic-like reactions in children, according to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical Center and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, both in Ann Arbor, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“A major, if not the main, risk associated with iodine-containing contrast agents is allergic types of reactions. Such reactions can be mild; for example, hives or severe reactions such as difficulty breathing or even cardiopulmonary arrest,” said Jonathan R. Dillman, MD, lead author of the study.

“Over the past 20 years, we have changed the type of iodine-containing intravenous contrast agents used primarily for computed tomography (CT) and intravenous pyelogram (IVP) examinations in both adult and pediatric patients. The nonionic contrast media that we now use have been studied extensively in adults, but not as much in children. We performed our study because we wanted to find out what the exact risk of allergic reactions to these newer contrast agents was in children,” said Dillman.

Over seven years, the study evaluated 11,306 IV administrations of iodine-containing contrast agents in children. Acute, allergic-like reactions were documented in 20 of the patients, with 16 categorized as mild, one as moderate, and three as severe.

“While we have long assumed that newer nonionic contrast agents are safe, this study re-affirms their safety and better determines what the risks actually are in children,” said Richard H. Cohan, MD, co-author of the study. “Our study confirms that doctors and parents alike can feel comfortable administering these agents to children.”