What is intravenous (IV) contrast material used for?

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Contrast material -- or just "contrast" -- is a clear liquid that highlights certain parts of your body on imaging tests. Although bones show up well on x-rays and other imaging tests, other organs -- such as the kidneys, blood vessels, or brain -- are not as easy to see. Because contrast shows up well, it also highlights whatever organ it enters.

Many diagnostic radiology tests use contrast, injected using an intravenous (IV) line in your wrist or arm. Once it is in a vein, it passes through your blood to highlight the organ being tested. Contrast material can make an imaging test much more effective in identifying a problem or disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.