The inexpensive drug, called N-acetylcysteine, can prevent serious kidney damage that can be caused by the iodine-containing “dyes” that doctors use to enhance the quality of such scans. Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System performed the study. It is a meta-analysis of data from 41 randomized controlled studies that evaluated various drugs for their kidney-protecting effects. Only N-acetylcysteine clearly prevented contrast-induced nephropathy. Theophylline, another drug that has been seen as a possible kidney-protecting agent, did not reduce risk significantly. Other drugs had no effect, and one, furosemide, raised kidney risk.
“Our goal is to improve the safety and quality of these common tests by studying drugs that reduce the risk of kidney failure,” says senior author Ruth Carlos, M.D., associate professor of radiology. Only studies that involved intravenous iodine-containing contrast agents, and compared a drug with a water or saline control, were included in the analysis. Oral “milkshake” barium contrast agents, used in CT scans of the digestive system, do not cause kidney damage, and were not included.
Although many drugs have been tried for prevention of iodine-related contrast-induced nephropathy, contradictory evidence has emerged from studies of how well they work. The result has been widespread variation in what hospitals and medical imaging centers do before scanning a patient. In recent years, manufacturers of contrast agents have begun to offer different formulations that may pose less risk to patients’ kidneys.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System