Gadolinium chelates, intended as intravenous contrast media for magnetic resonance imaging, have been regarded as nonnephrotoxic and recommended to replace iodinated contrast media in patients with azotemia who are undergoing digital subtraction angiography (DSA). High intraarterial doses (up to 220 mmol of gadodiamide) have been used, with a 40% incidence of nephropathy. The authors discourage the use of gadolinium for DSA for several reasons. (a) There exist no randomized studies comparing the nephrotoxic effects of gadolinium-based and iodinated media at equal-attenuating concentrations and doses. (b) Gadolinium-based media are hypertonic, a pathogenetic factor in contrast medium-induced nephropathy after renal angiography, with an osmolality two to seven times that of plasma. Iodinated media in concentrations that are equally attenuating with gadolinium-based media can be made isotonic. (c) In vitro measurements indicate that 0.5 mol/L gadolinium chelates are equally attenuating with 60-80 mg iodine per milliliter at the commonly used 70-90-kV range used for DSA. Thus, 50 mL of 0.5 mol/L gadolinium chelate ( approximately 0.3 mmol/kg in an 80-kg person) would be equally attenuating with a dose of 3-4 g of iodine in an iodinated medium (eg, 50 mL iohexol at 60-80 mg I/mL or 10-13 mL at 300 mg I/mL). (d) By combining these data on attenuation and results of toxicity studies in mice, the general toxicity of gadolinium chelates may be six to 25 times higher than that of equal-attenuating doses of iodinated media at 70-kV DSA. Thus, the authors believe that at equal-attenuating doses for DSA, modern iodinated contrast media should result in a lower toxic load on the body than with presently available gadolinium chelates.
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