Need a CT scan, but allergic to Contrast. What to do?

My Oncologist says it's high time to have another CT. I had hives and swelling of my face after the last one in Dec. 2010. Dr now needs to check what doxil and carboplatin have done to my recurrrence in the spleen. She wants this done May 31. All steroids make me a nervous, sleepless basket case for days. They are talking prednisone before the scan and for several days after. I'll be out of commission for days. I've tried ativan, benadryl, hydrocodone, ambien.... you name it, so I can sleep. My Onc thinks that anything that she deems necessary is Necessary! No matter how much discomfort the patient has. She's virtually the best in my area and I've been her patient since Feb. 2007. I'd just like to know if anyone has had a reaction to the contrast and what they did about it. Onc is adamant that contrast is to be used (not barium or whatever else is out there.) Yes, I can live with the jittery "hanging onto the ceiling with my fingernails" feelings, but I'm suppposed to go to a grandson's graduation and a wedding celebration, all just a couple days later. Not sure that Onc will postpone the CT since she wants to start the next chemo on June 6. During the initial chemo (carbo/taxol) in 2007, the dexamethasone I took before each treatment made me a bundle of raw nerves for days. It DID keep me from having an allergic reaction to the chemo however. I just hate it all. :( Any words of wisdom?

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My oncologist has us drink water before our CT scans and I think they get the same results. Jenny

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I'm also allergic to the iodine contrast so they prep me with a prednisone the night before, one 6 hrs before and I think there's another I take an hour before. I believe they are 50 mg tabs of prednisone. I also take benadryl an hour before. I haven't noticed a huge difference in being jittery - what is the mg dosage of your prednisone? Perhaps it can be reduced and still meet protocol. Best to ask the nurse to see if they can adjust it for you. However, I do know that if you don't take the pre-meds, they wont do the scan. I would advise you take a sleeping pill (child's dose of ambien cr works great for me) to help counter-act the prednisone but best to check with your doc about possible interactions.

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i am allergic to the iodine contrast also- the only thing they do is have me take a couple of benadryls an hour bfore - and drink the solution they have you drink which is just barium solution-make sure you drink lots of fluids after the scan-
the contrast that they pump into you -when your body feels the heat all over-is the odine solution. they usually have you drink a glass of water before you get onto the bed of the scan- but the benadryl seems to help avoid the swelling and problems i stay away from the
prednisone-it in itself can cause swelling in my face and body. had how it makes me feel-i'm not sure what the alternative would be if you are allrgic to the point of not being able to endure the contrast solution? maybe someone can tell us.

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i stand corrected both the iv and the oral are contrast solution both are used often when doing stomach area scans

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I looked at the script and I'm to take 40 mg of prednisone 12 hrs before the scan, then another 40 two hours before the scan. Then 30mg that night, and then 25 mg the next day, and then taper off each day by 5 mg. until the pills are gone. No amt of benadryl or anything will keep me from crawling the walls with those doses. My Onc is on vacation in Paris. When she gets back I'm going to call and see what she thinks of this heavy of a dose. She okayed the 80 mg before the scan, but the nurse practitioner prescribed the continuing dosage, since I ihad the red swollen face and itching for a week in December. I'm sure they don't want a reaction where I quit breathing. Strange thing is that I can eat shrimp or lobster and never have a reaction to the iodine in shellfish. So why does the contrast cause such a problem? (my hubby never had a scan of anything in his life but all of a sudden one day he had a reaction to shrimp and now can't touch any shellfish). I imagine he couldn't take any contrast should he ever need it. Thanks for the replies. I think my doses are too high.

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http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/1001/p1229.html

check out this site

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it really is a good site- with lots of good information if you have an allergy to contrast solution you should read this !!

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Why don't you just get a PET? They're more informative anyway.

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I had a PET in January to confirm the dx that the CT showed. My Onc really likes the CT (no doubt she's used to it) and was going to confirm the size of the tumor with an MRI. I've never had one of those but am kind of claustrophobic so I suggested a PET. I did my homework and found out that ins would pay for the PET for OvCa. It didn't used to. That's been a relatively new coverage passed a yr or so ago. I kind of enjoyed the PET. I believe there was some music piped into the room and it was fine. I have chronic asthma so thought I would have to cough lying there that long, but I did okay. My Onc however, relies on the CT as the first dx tool she uses. She's only in her 50's but is set in her ways. She's very well respected around here though. If she told her staff to "Jump", they would all say "How high?" She's also a professor in the school of medicine, I'll do some more checking before I have the scan. (by the way, my primary care dr has rarely prescribed prednisone for my asthma as he does for some because I've always had trouble with sleeping etc., when I take it.) I'll check out any and all links about allergy to contrast. And I always have a chest, abdomen and pelvic CT when i have them. On second thought I'll mention the PET to her and see what she says. Maybe she'll be mellow after vacationing in Paris! :)

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I am allergic to Contrast so I have the CT-scan without the contrast. My doctor is not happy about it but they found the ovarian cancer without the contrast and the report from the CT-scan showed very small (1cm) nodes all over the omentium. Not to mention the very large masses in my ovaries (one 10cm and the other 18.5cm). So you do not have to have the contrast.
Melissa

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I am allergic to the contrast also. My docs now have me do a PET scan instead. I am a little worried that the PET Scan is more radiation or is worse than the CT scan in terms of radiation. Is that true? We all get radiated so much. Interesting that you can have the CT scan without the contrast. I should have asked about that.
Ell

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I feel the same way about steroids and found them difficult to tolerate when I was going through chemo. However, i don't find the premeds that I have to take for the CTs to be a problem. I take 50mg of prednisone 13 hrs before the CT and then again 1 hr before the CT. Just the 2 steroids, nothing after. I also take a Gravol 1 hr before the CT. My dr would prefer that i take a Benadryl instead of the Gravol but i also don't tolerate the Benadryl well so this is my alternative. I drink the gross drink, get the contrast and then just make sure to drink lots of water afterwards, but no more pills. I've been doing this for over 5 years and have never had another reaction to the contrast dye.

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Wow, that's a whopping big dose of prednisone but what ever works. I can understand having to come down slowly from such a high dose of the drug...Sweetie, sometimes, when we are scared out of our minds, we really do have to put our trust and faith in our doctors. It sounds like you have a good one BUT I agree with asking for a Pet instead.

The biggest reason for using CT's first used to always be about the cost! When I saw the bills, I about fell over. The PET was about $7,500 compared to CT at about $4,000. Isn't it ridiculous the amount of $$$$'s it costs to have these scans?

I just wanted to wish you GOOD LUCK with which ever scan you have!!! The PET doesn't use iodine and your insurance company would not thing this out of the question, by any means! Special people get special consideration....right? RIGHT!!!

Hugs to you:)

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Many people (including physicians) confuse a shellfish allergy with an allergy to IV contrast used in CT scans. If a true iodine allergy does not exist, a CT scan should e well tolerated as it was in my case.

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I had the CT on 5/31. I dosed up with prednisonc 12 hrs and then 2 hrs before the scan. Also took benadryl. About 4 hrs after the scan the reaction started anyway. I have small hives, itiching, enough to keep me awake. Then this a.m.. my face was bright pink and was slightly swollen and my neck is itching terribly (especially where the t azol leaked out of the port catheter and ruined the skin and tissue of my neck forever. this was in 7/2007). So I took another big dose of prednisone and it took 3 hrs to work on the face and neck. I'm to take more tomorrow a.m. and so forth. But this is it. I'm not having any more contrast since this makes it so I can't leave the house and look funny and itching. My Onc does not like to be TOLD what to do. But she can like it or lump it. I'm not having anymore of that. I'll know the results of the scan at my appt on June 6th. Not looking forward to it as I'm having discomfort in the spleen area. Good luck to all to have to use contrast.

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There is an allergy protocol that is used before the CT contrast is given. It involves taking steroids and benedryl. Ask your radiology group to administer the protocol if you are a candidate for it.

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