UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Immediate Hypersensitivity Reactions (IHR) to Radio Contrast Media (RCM)

Keywords: iohexol, iodixanol, radio contrast media, immediate hypersensitivity reactions (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/5/2011 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD
Click here to contact Bryan Hayes, PharmD

Many patients report an allergy to iodinated RCM, sometimes adding to the complexity of diagnostic decision making.  Here are a few pearls to help:

  • Seafood or shellfish allergy is NOT a risk factor for IHR to RCM
  • Iodine and iodide are small molecules that do NOT cause anaphylactic or anaphylactoid reactions
  • Life-threatening reactions occur in only 0.004 to 0.04 percent of nonionic low osmolality RCM infusions
    • Our radiology department uses primarily iohexol (Omnipaque) for IV contrast with a low osmolality of 844
    • Iodixanol (Visipaque) is the iso-osmotic alternative with an osmolality of 290

Bottom line: Despite the lack of cross reactivity with shellfish/iodine allergies AND the very low risk associated with today’s low osmolality agents, premedication is still indicated in patient’s with a history of IHR to RCM.