Use of Contrast Media in Computer Tomography – Radiology Example

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"Use of Contrast Media in Computer Tomography"  is a worthy example of a paper on radiology. Contrast media, often alternatively called contrast agent, is a chemical compound composed of barium sulfate (a salt), which is normally orally or intravenously inserted in the body part to be diagnosed prior to the performance of a computer tomography scan. In this case, the contrast agent (media) is essential in assisting radiologists correctly determine images that are normal and/ or abnormal (Canon, 2010). Contrast Media in Computer Tomography                       The technology of CT has been in use since its invention in 1972.

In virtually every public medical facility and in most private health institutions too, contrast media use has become a ubiquitous phenomenon. In these vicinities, contrast media is applied in radiological tests such as myelography, computer tomography, IVU (intravenous urography ) and IVP (intravenous pyelography), angiography, interventional techniques, and so on (Gershwin, 2007).                       During a computer tomography test, a patient is either administered with a specific contrast agent via an injection, rectally or orally. The work of the computer tomography contrast is to cause the vessels of the blood and/ or tissues/ certain organs to be easily noticeable/ distinct/ conspicuous, which consequently enhances image contrast/ clarity in order that it is much easier to visualize/ detect an injury or disease in the areas under investigation. Principle of Contrast Media                       The working principle of various contrast media depends on the kinds of contrast media employed in a procedure.

The main working principle, however, is the application of variations in the distribution of the media of contrast. These variations cause essential opacification of the body part under study allowing the examiner the capability to focus on the part in relation to the tissue in the background.

As for intravenous injections of contrast media, the media increases the visibility of the vessels of blood and makes the structures of tissues/ organs understudy to be more conspicuous/ distinct. As for oral administrations, on the other hand, the media improves on the images of the computer tomography in cases of pelvic and abdominal tests. The contrast from Barium, for example, has the same consistency as that of milk (Gerdes, 2008). Safety of Contrast Media Application                       Contrast media are safe for medical uses.

The safety of the contrast media is not impacted by the side effects accrued from media use. A majority of the side effects are usually mild while others, on the other hand (like anaphylactoid), can be lead to severe reactions (McPhee, 2011). No therapeutic procedures are necessary during contrast media use but are applied as products that are anomalous. Contrast media do not have any medical role except for enhanced visibility purposes. Consequently, unlike in the administration of drugs, the idea of the therapeutic ration is not used with contrast media (McPhee, 2012).                       To avoid any adverse effects on patients, the staffs in the department of radiology are well aware of the correct and safe use of contrast media.

Moreover, studies show that certain contrast agents like the second generation perfluorocarbon based contrast media actually also aid in the remedy of echocardiography stress (McPhee, 2010). Adverse Reactions that are Possible                       Some of the documented adverse reactions that arise from the use of contrast media include damage to local tissues (from contrast media reactions), allergic reactions delay, anaphylactic reactions, intravenous contrast-induced renal toxicity, and inconveniences that are mild like hives caused itching.

Examples of side effects from the application of barium sulfate in patients include constipation, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, itching, throat swelling, hives, red skin, swallowing and/ or breathing difficulties, agitation, increased heart rates, hoarseness, skin color turning bluish, confusion, and so on (McPhee, 2008). Causes of Risk                       There are certain conditions which render one at risk of side effects elicited by contrast media use. For instance, the presence of cystic fibrosis enhances the chances of blockage of the small bowel whereas excessive dehydration can cause extreme constipation.

Moreover, a patient with a history of allergies like asthma and hay fever can be at risk as a result of increased chances of allergic reactions to the contrast agent’ s component additives. An iodinated contrast substance allergy can equally cause anaphylaxis. Barium sulfate is also known to easily worsen intestinal complications such as perforations and blockages. In dysfunctional renal systems or chronic/ acute severe renal insufficiency, there are chances of the patient acquiring systemic fibrosis diseases (Schweitzer, 2007). What to Expect Following a Computer Tomography Test that Uses Contrast Media that is Iodinated                       Iodinated contrast media must be applied with good expertise and care.

Medical personnel handling these materials is required to fully comprehend the features, side effects that are possible, and other complications concerning the use of the materials. In this wavelength, there is the need to urgently recognize and carry out fast and comprehensive treatment of any arising adverse reactions. This is the way health care providers and physicians ensure that patients that have been administered with contrast media are kept safe and healthy (Thomsen, 2006). Contrast Media Types used in Computer Tomography                       The means through which contrast media is delivered into the body will dictate the kind of contrast agent that is utilized.

Contrast media can be administered either rectally, via inhalations, orally or through injections (intravenously). The most preferred contrast agents used in hospitals are those that contain iodine and barium sulfate. Iodinated contrast media are those which have iodine. They can be delivered into the body via injections in the veins, arteries, body cavities, and within fluid spaces or disks contained in the spine.

Barium sulfate media are however commonly administered orally or rectally. They are available in powder (diluted in water before administration), paste and liquid forms (Shaw, 2009).                       Barium sulfate and iodinated contrast media are often administered via injections into parts of the body where they block or impede x-ray penetration capacities in the targeted regions. Their presence in these areas, which is temporal, enhances the contrast and visibility of the organs, tissues and the blood vessels for easy discernment via computer tomography or x-rays (Davis, 2005).                       It is not advisable to expose an expectant mother to contrast media that is iodinated.

This step is only necessary when considered very necessary in a certain condition. As already stated, the health care provider that handles these media must be well aware of the characteristics of the agent, its indications, side effects associated with the same, and treatment interventions required in case of any eventuality. Within a week after birth, neonates born of mothers who were subjected to contrast media that was iodinated must undergo thyroid function tests.

This is as per the contemporary care standards in modern pediatrics (Quaia, 2005).                       In as much as there could be variations in the breast milk tastes following administrations of iodinated contrast media, there should be no concerns and breastfeeding should proceed as usual as the amount of contrast agent excreted by the breastfeeding mother is quite negligible and hence harmless (Jull, 2002, 70). On the other hand, adverse reactions are to be quickly identified and in the same urgency, thoroughly treated. This way, hospitals ensure that the use of contrast media is quite safe.

In the same way, those with renal complications are advised to proceed still with their treatment prescriptions and regimes. It is, however, essential to ascertain that metformin levels in these patients are okay before proceeding with the administration of iodinated contrast media (Gross, 2010).


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