Implications of iodinated contrast media extravasation in the emergency department

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PurposeTo characterize the management, outcomes, and emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) following iodinated contrast media extravasation events in the ED.MethodsAll ED patients who developed iodinated contrast media extravasation following contrast-enhanced CT (CECT) from October 2007–December 2016 were retrospectively identified. Medical records were reviewed and management, complications, frequency of surgical consultation, and ED LOS were quantified using descriptive statistics. The Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to compare ED LOS in patients who did and did not receive surgical consultation.ResultsA total of 199 contrast extravasation episodes occurred in ED patients during the 9-year study period. Of these, 42 patients underwent surgical consultation to evaluate the contrast extravasation event. No patient developed progressive symptoms, compartment syndrome, or tissue necrosis, and none received treatment beyond supportive care (warm/cold packs, elevation, compression). Median ED LOS for patients who did and did not receive surgical consultation was 11.3 h versus 9.0 h, respectively (p < 0.01).ConclusionClose observation and supportive care are sufficient for contrast extravasation events in the ED without concerning symptoms (progressive pain/swelling, altered tissue perfusion, sensory changes, or blistering/ulceration). Routine surgical consultation is likely unnecessary in the absence of these symptoms – concordant with the current American College of Radiology guidelines – and may be associated with longer ED LOS without impacting management.

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