Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography Safe, Effective

Radiographic contrast infusion does not induce catecholamine release and is safe in patients not taking alpha- or beta-blockers

MONDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Intravenous low-osmolar contrast-enhanced computed tomography is a safe procedure for localizing pheochromocytoma in patients, according to research published in the Jan. 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Smita K. Baid, M.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues conducted a prospective study to evaluate the safety of intravenous low-osmolar contrast-enhanced computed tomography for diagnosis of pheochromocytomas. The procedure was performed in 22 patients with pheochromocytoma and eight unmatched controls without the tumor.

Plasma catecholamine levels did not differ significantly either among or between the two patient groups, indicating the procedure did not induce catecholamine release, the researchers report. However, the study lacked a placebo (no procedure) group for effective comparison, they note. Pheochromocytoma patients did experience a significant increase in diastolic blood pressure, which normalized when adjusted for use of alpha- or beta-adrenergic blockers. No effect on heart rate was attributed to the use of the computed tomography procedure, the report indicates.

"Use of intravenous low-osmolar contrast-enhanced computed tomography for localization of pheochromocytoma can be considered safe in these patients," the authors conclude, adding "alpha- or beta-adrenergic blockade, which is often given to prevent hypertensive crisis, is not necessary."

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