Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2023 May 2;84(5):1-9. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2022.0544.
Contrast-enhanced medical imaging is commonly requested in clinical practice. Contrast media provide better differentiation of tissue enhancement, improves the soft tissue contrast resolution, and enhances the ability to study the physiology and function of the organs and/or systems. However, contrast media may cause complications, especially in patients with renal failure. This article discusses the use of contrast media in common imaging modalities and the relationship between contrast media and renal function. Administration of iodinated contrast media in computed tomography may cause contrast-associated acute kidney injury; the risk factors and preventive strategies for this are elaborated in this article. Administration of gadolinium-based contrast media in magnetic resonance imaging may lead to nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Therefore, precautions should be taken when planning for medical imaging for patients with pre-existing acute kidney injury or end-stage chronic kidney disease, for whom contrast media administration in computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging may be relatively contraindicated. Alternatively, ultrasound contrast agents can be safely used in patients with acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease. Clinical teams should discuss these patients with radiologists, taking into account the risk-benefits of contrast media, to determine the optimal imaging protocol or modality to answer the clinical query.