Utility of measuring serum creatinine to detect renal compromise in ED patients receiving IV contrast-enhanced CT scan

William Bonadio, Kevin Molyneux, Elyse Lavine, Kaedrea Jackson, Alexander Kagen, Eric Legome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objectives of this study are to determine the efficacy of a roster of clinical factors in identifying risk for renal insufficiency in emergency department (ED) patients requiring intravenous contrast-enhanced CT scan (IVCE-CT) and to help mitigate potential for developing contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN). Methods: A review was conducted of consecutive ED patients who received IVCE-CT during a 4-month period in our urban ED. The values of ED serum creatinine (SCr) performed were tabulated. The medical records of all patients with an elevated SCr (> 1.4 mg/dL) were reviewed to determine and correlate the presence of clinical risk factors for underlying renal insufficiency. Results: During the 4-month study period, there were 2260 consecutive cases who received IVCE-CT; of these, 2250 (99.6%) had concomitant measurement of SCr. Elevated SCr occurred in 141 patients (6.2%); of these, 75 had a SCr > 2 mg/dL. In all, 139/141 (98.6%) with an elevated SCr had an underlying chronic or acute medical condition identified by medical record review which potentially compromised renal function, including chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, HIV infection, cancer, hypertension, congestive heart failure, sepsis/septic shock, chronic alcoholism, and sickle cell disease. Two patients with no identified risk factor each had (mildly) elevated SCr; both had a normal SCr measured post-CT scan. The total cost of performing serum basic metabolic panel to measure SCr in all patients during the 4-month study period was $94,500. Conclusions: Elevated SCr is rarely present in ED patients without recognized risk factors who receive IVCE-CT scan. The vast majority with underlying renal insufficiency are readily identified by a review of the patient’s medical history and/or clinical findings. Routine SCr measurement on all ED patients regardless of risk stratification prior to IVCE imaging is neither time nor cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-902
Number of pages4
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • IV contrast-enhanced CT
  • renal injury


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