Allergy of  iodine radiocontrast agent

Simona Abraitytė1, Arvydas Kuncė1, Edvinas Ščefanavičius1

1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Academy of Medicine. Faculty of Medicine.


Iodinated contrast media is widely used in radiology for instrumental examinations and procedures. It is used at least 100 million times per year worldwide [1,6,10]. First time iodine as contrast agent was used in 1920s. From that time doctors noticed some side effects, which physicians and patients describe as ‘’iodine allergy’’[2,4]. The real iodine allergy is a very rare case. Side effects of Iodinated contrast media or sensibilization of iodine are common in radiologist clinical practice. This article describes allergy and sensibilization of Iodinated contrast media, its etiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, prophylaxis and denies the myth of supposedly frequent ‘’iodine allergies’’.

There was getting more and more side effects after iodinated contrast media was discovered and widely used in radiology. Doctors and patients started to use terminology ‘iodine allergy’. Nowadays this terminology is used widely in radiologist clinical work. This terminology often confuses patients and doctors. Allergy of iodinated contrast media is a rare condition. However, side effects caused by allergy of iodinated contrast media are common. Some physicians and patients think that allergy of seafood, allergy of local antiseptic, allergy of amiodarone have interface with allergy of iodinated contrast media which is not true. Iodine is not an allergen.

This article presents allergy of iodinated contrast media, its pathogenesis, clinical features, real allergy and pseudoallergy differences, what kind of actions is recommended of suspected iodine allergy. Also, this article presents recommendations which would help to avoid this terminology that confuses patients and doctors.

Keywords: allergy of iodinated contrast media, iodine, contrast media