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Oral Contrast: Worth the Diagnostic Benefit?

Oral Contrast: Worth the Diagnostic Benefit?

Most outpatients would accept drinking oral contrast material if it has diagnostic benefit, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor performed a prospective survey to determine how patients valued the use of oral contrast material when undergoing abdominopelvic CT.

A total of 218 patients completed the survey, in which the subjects were given a hypothetical choice to not drink oral contrast. Eighty-nine percent of the subjects (193 patients) stated that they would always drink the contrast for fear of missing an important finding, and only 2% (5 patients) stated that they would never drink it regardless of risk.

Nine percent (20 patients) said that the decision to drink oral contrast would depend on the level of risk, with 8% (18 patients) indicating that they would accept a 0.01% to 1.00% risk for missing an important finding if they did not have to drink oral contrast.

The researchers also asked about the tolerability of the oral contrast; 55% (120 patients) rated the oral contrast taste as tolerable and 10% (21 patients) rated it bad or terrible.

Thirty-six subjects experienced concern or unease when they learned that they had to drink oral contrast:

8 minimal concern or unease

15 mild

10 moderate

3 extreme

Thirty-six patients experienced oral contrast–induced nausea or abdominal discomfort:

10 minimal

15 mild

10 moderate

1 extreme

The researchers concluded that most patients will drink oral contrast if it has any diagnostic benefit.

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