Information for patients
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You have had a CT scan, with a contrast injection. This leaflet describes how to manage the extravasation of contrast.
What is extravasation?
Contrast (X-ray dye) is given to you through a cannula (fine tube) in a vein, usually in your arm or hand. Extravasation is when the dye leaks out under your skin instead of going into your vein. This is rare.
What will happen next?
If this happens, it may sting around the area and it can be painful. The Radiographer will remove the cannula and will massage your arm.
A cold compress (a small ice pack that helps to ease pain) will be put on to the area and your arm will be elevated. The area may be swollen and painful for around 30 minutes.
If the scan was not completed, the Radiographer will talk to you about placing another cannula to complete the test. This can be postponed until another day if you prefer.
Can I do anything at home?
Yes, you can do the following:
- Massage the area.
- If there is swelling, keep the arm elevated as much as possible. This will help reduce the swelling.
- You can use an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables. This can be placed over the area for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Never place ice directly on to your skin, as this can cause frostbite. Use a tea towel to wrap around and protect the skin.
- If it is painful, you may want to consider taking painkillers.
Is there anything I need to look out for?
In most cases, the injury is minor and does not need follow up or treatment. However, in a small number of cases, the injury to your skin is more severe and you will need to seek medical attention.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should attend your local Emergency Department and take this leaflet with you:
- The pain becomes more severe and your usual pain relief does not control the pain.
- There is increased swelling to the area.
- There is a change in sensation to the area or you get ‘pins and needles’.
- The skin changes colour.
- There is ulceration or blistering of the skin around the affected area.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your CT scan with contrast, please contact:
University Hospital of North Tees
Telephone: 01642 624913
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
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Email: [email protected]
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Telephone: 01642 617617
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Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet reference: PIL1372
Date for review: 20 March 2025