All You Need to Know About the Contrast Media

Contrast media enhance and boost image quality (or pictures), so that the radiologist (a medical doctor qualified to analyze the pictures and give a written report to the patient's physician or medical) may report more reliably on how the body functions and whether there is any illness or abnormality present.


Contrast media, also called contrast agents, are used for blood enhancement and tissue perfusion. This includes computed tomography (CT) based contrast based on iodine, MRI based agents based on gadolinium, and ultrasound contrast agents used in the lipid bubble.

The two primary types of contrast media dependent on iodine are ionic and nonionic. The development of ionic contrast media-enabled radiologists has helped to visualize vessels and organs on various imaging studies. Some have a degree of toxicity, however, and the advent of non-ionic media resulted in less adverse reactions. New contrast media are low ionic, iso-osmolar, and gadolinium-based media.

Types of contrast media products


Iodine-containing contrast medium (ICCM) is a chemical material used in medical X-ray imaging, also called a contrast medium or contrast medium. When inserted into the body, ICCM reveals what happens within the body's hollow parts (such as the blood vessels, the liver, the intestine or even the fluid around the spinal cord) on X-ray images or videos. When inserted into a blood vessel that can be either an artery or a vein, it not only reveals the interior of the blood vessel but it can also provide details about how the organs supplied by that blood vessel function. The liver, the brain, and the lungs are perfect examples of this.


Gadolinium-based contrast medium can cause a condition known as systemic nephrogenic fibrosis (NSF) in patients with severely reduced function of the kidneys. A blood test called an approximate glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is typically used to assess significantly reduced function. Whether your eGFR is 30 mL/min or below, whether you are severely unwell and your kidney function is rapidly worsening, you have a marginally higher chance of NSF by using these contrast agents.


Composed of a gas core with a stabilizing shell, microbubbles (MBs) act as contrast agents for ultrasonic imaging. Each MB has a diameter of a few microns, and can, therefore, be safely injected intravenously. MBs are strongly echogenic at frequencies that correspond to the spectrum of clinical ultrasound due to the impedance mismatch between the MB and the surrounding tissue and their near-resonant oscillation.

This oscillation generates a powerful echo returned from an incident ultrasound pulse, with single MBs detected in vivo inside vessels. MBs are also used widely for ultrasound imaging1 and, more recently, for images with super-resolution. Microbubble contrast agents are commonly used in ultrasonic imaging and therapy, usually with MHz frequencies in the transmission center.

Contrast media applications

Neurological disorders

Neurological conditions are increasingly recognized by patients, their families, and society as one of the most common diseases with a high burden. Neurological disorders are increasingly recognized as one of the most prevalent disorders with a high burden to the patients, their families, and society. The iodinated contrast media's capacity to amplify X-rays depends on the number of iodine molecules present in the tissue to be pictured and it is inversely proportional to the X-ray energy used for imaging. Thus, the type and amount of contrast media used for a given purpose often depend on the imaging characteristics required.

Cardiovascular disorders

Cardiovascular disorders (CVDs), consisting of ischemic heart disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, and a variety of other cardiac and vascular conditions, are the leading cause of global mortality and contribute significantly to a decreased quality of life. CVD caused an estimated 17.8 million deaths globally in 2017, leading to 330 million years of life loss and another 35.6 million years of handicapped living. Taken together with data on CVD and the incidence of the risk factor, these overview safety indicators can be useful to cardiologists, other physicians, and specialists in public health.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are the world's leading contributor to the impairment, with low back pain being the single leading cause of global impairment. Musculoskeletal conditions and accidents are not just older-age disorders; they are common throughout life. About one in three and one in five people (including children) live with the condition of musculoskeletal pain.

Musculoskeletal disorders dramatically impair mobility and dexterity, resulting in early retirement from employment, decreased accumulated wealth and reduced social roles capacity. Musculoskeletal conditions account for the greatest proportion of non-cancer chronic pain conditions. MRI uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of joints, soft tissues, and bones. Usually, it is the safest option for body evaluation of fractures, tumors, and degenerative disorders.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Around one in six deaths worldwide occur due to cancer. In low- and middle-income countries, nearly 70 percent of cancer deaths take place. Around one-third of cancer deaths are due to the five main lifestyle and dietary risks: high body mass index, poor consumption of fruit and vegetables, lack of physical activity, use of tobacco, and alcohol use.

Among low- and middle-income countries, cancer that induces infections such as hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for up to 25 percent of cancer. Presentation in late stages and inadequate diagnosis and care is normal. In 2017, just 26 percent of low-income countries reported having general public sector pathology services. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is increasingly the choice of imaging tool for the identification and treatment of both benign and malignant tumors.

What’s trending in the industry?

Preload Contrast Protocols

Power injectors with normal, preloaded media contrast protocols help to make images more accurate, irrespective of the technologist or radiologist who is using the device. Several years of work have been invested in these protocols by major academic centers to support CT users with the improved capabilities of their newer imaging systems. It is especially important for centers that use various types of scanners, where various protocols are required depending on each type of scanner and multiple examination factors such as the parameters of the contrast media, injection rate, length, type of organ being imaged and weight of the patient.

Key Differences in Injectors

CT devices use a dual-head injector with two syringes during the imaging for initial and follow-up dose comparisons. Injectors used in angiography of the cath lab are single-head injectors that use one syringe. Another major difference is where the contrast is added. Both CT-systems use venous access. Air embolism is not a big concern, because any tiny bubbles inserted into a vein are being expelled into the lungs. Angiography devices inject contrast into arteries where the extreme risk of an air embolism can be present. Several cath laboratory injectors have detectors of air embolism, warning of bubbles in the line before they enter a patient.

Workflow Improvements

Several injector systems are provided to manage data. These provide data for calculating efficiencies in the process, quality of the imaging and patient health. The systems will implement multi-detector CT protocols that are preprogrammed. PACS informatics solution that combines the CT contrast-injection record of each patient with the relevant clinical image collection stored in the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS). When studies are conducted it simultaneously records and preserves parameters of contrast injection in the protected database electronically. The program provides access to Web-based information from all over the hospital and remote locations.

Free Valuable Insights: Global Contrast Media Market to reach a market size of USD 6.3 billion by 2025

To sum up

The contrast media market is still in its development phase but will evolve in the years to come. Various factors such as the rise in acceptability for contrast agents and the increasing number of diagnostic centers that have expanded diagnostic imaging services contribute to the growth of the market. Several advanced methods, such as the technologies used in MRI imaging is a gas microbubble, are likely to boost the market growth. Factors including growing investments in the contrast media market and the changes in the radiopharmaceuticals and healthcare sector are fueling the market growth.

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