Radiologic procedures that employ intravascular contrast material with or without angiography may lead to renal failure. In procedures that use intravenous contrast alone, the mechanism of renal injury is not precisely known, but direct toxicity to renal tubular cells is likely to be a major factor. Ionic and nonionic contrast agents are both capable of causing this adverse reaction. Renal failure occurring during angiography may also be secondary to the effects of radiocontrast, but the additional possibility that micro cholesterol emboli have been dislodged from atheroma located on the intima of large vessels must be considered. The acute or subacute development of renal failure in the presence of skin changes (livido reticularis), hypertension, multiple organ failure or dysfunction, and a fatal outcome favors the later diagnosis.
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