Advice Sheet Following Extravasation of Radiographic Contrast Media

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1096/2019
  • Departments: Radiology
  • Last Updated: 3 December 2019


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

Many procedures within the department of Radiology involve an injection of a contrast media (dye) into a vein.  The reasons for the injection will be explained at the time of the procedure.  Sometimes, during these injections, an extravasation (a leak) may occur.  This leaflet aims to explain what this is and how it should be looked after.

What is an extravasation

An extravasation occurs when the radiographic contrast media (dye) leaks out of a vein into the surrounding tissue.  If this occurs you may feel pain or tightening around the injection site.

Before you leave the hospital or department

A doctor will explain what has happened and what further signs to look out for.  You will have been observed in the department and a pressure bandage may have been applied.

After leaving the hospital (and for the next three days)

For the next three or four days please note the following instructions:

  • Keep the arm elevated when possible
  • Take plenty of non-alcoholic drinks
  • Take paracetamol for any localised pain
  • Apply a cold compress up to three times a day to the site

Contact the hospital if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Blistering over the injection site
  • Redness or any other change in skin colour
  • Increase/decrease of skin temperature at the site (compared with the temperature of your skin elsewhere)
  • Numbness in the fingers
  • Hardness at the injection site which is still present after 3 days.

Contact numbers for follow up treatment issues

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet or with ongoing symptoms, please contact:

During hours of 9.00am – 5.00pm Telephone (01482) 875875. Ask for the department you initially had the examination, e.g. CT department at the Castle Hill Hospital.

During hours of 5.00pm – 9.00am, at weekends and Bank Holidays Telephone: (01482) 482170. This is the Emergency CT department.  One of the Radiology doctors will be able to offer you advice.

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