Prevention of Contrast-Induced Nephropathy in the Emergency Department

Richard Sinert, Christopher I. Doty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Study objective: Contrast-induced nephropathy is the third leading cause of hospital-acquired acute renal failure. Expanded use of contrast-enhanced imaging exposes an ever-widening number of patients to this renal toxin. We perform an evidence-based emergency medicine review comparing different therapies to prevent contrast-induced nephropathy. We limit our review to prophylactic therapies that are practical for an emergency department setting. Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library for randomized trials comparing a wide range of medications to prevent contrast-induced nephropathy. We defined contrast-induced nephropathy by a commonly used surrogate measure of renal failure: a 25% or 0.5 mg/dL absolute increase in serum creatinine level from baseline 48 to 72 hours postcontrast. We limited our review to only trials for patients with baseline renal insufficiency, who are most at risk for contrast-induced nephropathy. We excluded prophylactic protocols requiring more than 2 hours precontrast to initiate and any trials of experimental medications or those that required invasive monitoring. We used standard criteria to appraise the quality of published trials. Results: We found 7 randomized trials; 3 using N-acetylcysteine, 2 using theophylline, and 1 each using bicarbonate and ascorbic acid. Although many of these trials showed statistically significant reductions in the risk for contrast-induced nephropathy, none were sufficiently powered to detect reductions in mortality rate or the need for dialytic therapy. Conclusion: Evidence from randomized trials shows that these interventions (theophylline, bicarbonate, and ascorbic acid) under review were appropriate to an ED setting and decreased the risk of contrast-induced nephropathy. The case for the effectiveness (N-acetylcysteine) was less certain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-345.e2
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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