ANN ARBOR, Mich. As more and more Americans undergo CT scans and other medical imaging scans involving intense X-rays, a new study suggests that many of them should take a pre-scan drug that could protect their kidneys from damage.
The inexpensive drug, called N-acetylcysteine, can prevent serious kidney damage that can be caused by the iodine-containing dyes that doctors use to enhance the quality of such scans.
That dye, called contrast agent, is usually given intravenously before a CT scan, angiogram or other test. But the new study shows that taking an N-acetylcysteine tablet before receiving the contrast agent can protect patients and that it works better than other medicines that have been proposed for the same purpose.
People whose kidneys are already vulnerable, including many older people and those with diabetes or heart failure, are the most at risk from contrast agents, and have the most to gain from taking the drug.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System performed the study, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It is a meta-analysis of data from 41 randomized controlled studies that evaluated various drugs for their kidney-protecting effects. It was led by Aine Kelly, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at the U-M Medical School.
Only N-acetylcysteine clearly prevented contrast-induced nephropathy, the medical name for kidney damage caused by contrast agents. Theophylline, another drug that has been seen as a possible kidney-protecting agent, did not reduce risk significantly. Other drugs had no effect, and one, furosemide, raised kidney risk.
Our goal is to improve the safety and quality of these common tests by studying drugs that reduce the risk of kidney failure, says senior author Ruth Carlos, M.D., associate professor of radiology.
Mild to moderate kidney damage occurs in one in four high-risk people who have
|Contact: Kara Gavin|
University of Michigan Health System