Diagnostic Dyes May Put Patients at Risk

Injected agents undermine kidney function, researchers explain

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 23, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Injected radiocontrast dyes used in diagnostic testing can trigger declines in kidney function, and a new study suggests that even a fairly minor decline in kidney function can increase death risk for patients.

Researchers at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analyzed data on nearly 11,500 patients who had a coronary angiography to evaluate possible heart disease. For this test, radiocontrast dye is injected into the patient's blood vessels in order to highlight the coronary arteries on the X-ray images.

In this study, changes in the patients' serum creatinine levels (an indicator of kidney function) were evaluated before and after they were injected with the dye. An increase in serum creatinine levels indicates a reduction in kidney function.

The study found that even a small drop in kidney function after dye injection was linked with a significantly increased risk of death within the next 30 days. A 25 percent to 50 percent increase in serum creatinine levels in the days after dye injection was associated with a 39 percent increased risk of death.

In general, the larger the increase in serum creatinine, the greater the risk of death, the study said.

"Our study helps to identify early changes in kidney function that should alert clinicians to a potential problem with kidney function," study lead author Dr. Steven D. Weisbord said in a prepared statement.

"This will help clinicians implement measures to prevent further loss of kidney function and potentially avoid serious adverse events," Weisbord said.

The findings were published in the October Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about serum creatinine.

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Aug. 23, 2006
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