Are gadolinium contrast media really less nephrotoxic than iodine agents in radiographic examinations? A comparison in relation to their ability to attenuate x-rays in a pig model

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Purpose: To confront the statement that gadolinium contrast media (Gd-CM) are less nephrotoxic than iodine contrast media (I-CM) when used in x-ray angiographic and computed tomographic (CT) examinations.

Methods: I) For CT measurements (mean density in Hounsfield numbers) 20-mL syringes filled with I- and Gd-CM at 0.01, 0.02, 0.05 and 0.1 mmol attenuating atoms/mL were scanned in air and in a 30 cm polystyrene phantom. For measurements on radiofluoroscopy (RF), X-ray angiography (XA) and direct digital systems (DX) systems (relative contrast values) 20-mL syringes were filled with 0.5M Gd-CM and I-CM at 35, 50, 70, 90, 110 and 140 mg I/mL. The syringes were placed in phantoms equivalent to 13 (thin) and 20 cm (thick) water. Syringes filled with distilled water served as a constancy reference. II) In a non-crossover design in three separate studies 3 ml of each test solution were injected in 8 pigs/study at a rate of 20 mL/min into the balloon-occluded (10-minutes) right renal artery of left-sided nephrectomized pigs. Test solutions: 1) 0.5M gadopentetate (1.96 Osm/kg H2O), 0.5M gadodiamide (0.78 Osm/kg), 0.5M iohexol (190 mg I/mL; 0.42 Osm/kg), 0.18M iohexol (70 mg I/mL; with an x-ray attenuation equal to that of 0.5M Gd-CM at 80 kVp) and saline; 2) 0.5M gadopentetate, 0.5M gadodiamide, 0.5M iohexol and mannitol solutions iso-osmotic to these CM; 3) 1.0M gadobutrol (1.6 Osm/kg), 0.5M gadodiamide, iodixanol 150 and 320 mg I/mL (290 mOsm/kg) and iopromide 150 mg I/mL (340 mOsm/kg). The plasma half-life elimination time of a GFR-marker were used to compare their effects on glomerular filtration rate 1-3 hours post-injection. III) After the experiments the kidneys were evaluated histomorphologically.

Results: I) In vitro measurements indicate that 0.5M Gd-CM are equal attenuating with 60-80 mg I/mL at commonly used 70-90 kVp for XRA and with 110 mg I/mL at 120 kVp CT using a body phantom. II) Gadopentetate and iso-osmotic mannitol as well as gadobutrol caused severe impairment of renal function. Gadodiamide caused a 90% prolongation of plasma half-life relative to saline, significantly longer than 0.5M iohexol with a 35% prolongation. GFR following injections of iohexol 70, iopromide 150, and iodixanol 150 and 320 were in the same range as that following saline. III) Gd-CM with the highest osmolality caused marked necroses and haemorrhage/congestion correlating with their marked impairment of renal function, while the plasma iso-osmotic I-CM caused no or only minimal changes.

Conclusions: Gd-CM are more nephrotoxic than equal volumes of I-CM resulting in the same or even better attenuation of x-rays. Thus, Gd-CM should not be used as a substitute for I-CM in patients with renal impairment when performing radiographic examinations.

Key words: Angiography; Computed tomography; Contrast media, toxicity; Gadolinium; Glomerular filtration; Iodine; Kidney failure; Nephrotoxicity.

Key words: Angiography; Computed tomography; Contrast media, toxicity; Osmolality; Renal impairment; Gadolinium, Kidney failure; Iodine, nephrotoxicity, equal attenuation, equi-molar, osmotic load, attenuation, half-life, porcine model


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging


  • Angiography, Computed tomography, toxicity, Contrast media, Glomerular filtration, Gadolinium, Iodine, Kidney failure, Nephrotoxicity., Medicin (människa och djur), radiology, Clinical physics, Medicine (human and vertebrates), tomography, medical instrumentation, Diagnostik, Diagnostics, medicinsk instrumentering, tomografi, radiologi, Klinisk fysiologi
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2006 Jan 27
  • Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University
Print ISBNs91 - 85481 - 36 - X
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2006-01-27 Time: 09:00 Place: Malmö, UMAS Jubileumsaulan ing 59 External reviewer(s) Name: Jakobsen, Jarl Å. Title: Professor Affiliation: Bilde- og Intervensjonsklinikken, Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet HF ---

Total downloads

No data available

Related research output

Barbara Elmståhl, Peter Leander, Grant, D., Doughty, R. W., Chai, C-M., Björk, J., Almén, T. & Ulf Nyman, 2007, In : Acta Radiologica. 48, 10, p. 1109-1119

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Barbara Elmståhl, Nyman, U., Peter Leander, Chai, C-M., Golman, K., Jonas Björk & Almén, T., 2006, In : European Radiology. 16, 12, p. 2712-2720

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (4)