Background: N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is reported to have potential for preventing of contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) in patients undergoing coronary angiography. However, the effectiveness of NAC in preventing CIN in patients undergoing contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) is still controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis of relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to further examine this issue. Methods: RCTs were identified by computerized searching in PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, and Cochrane databases. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of each study. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of NAC in preventing CIN in patients undergoing CT. The primary outcome was the incidence of contrast-induced nephropathy, and the requirement for dialysis. The secondary outcome was the change of serum creatinine. Results: Six randomized controlled trials were identified with a total of 496 patients meeting the criteria for this study. Prophylactic administration of NAC in patients with serum creatinine above 1.2 mg/dL undergoing contrast-enhanced CT, along with hydration, reduced the risk of CIN (relative risk 0.20; 95 % confidence interval: 0.07-0.57). Requirement for dialysis was not significantly different between the NAC group and the control group. Conclusions: This review provides evidence of the efficacy of NAC in preventing the incidence of CIN and recommends that NAC be more widely used in high-risk patients undergoing contrast-enhanced CT. On the basis of the evidence reviewed, further research involving large RCTs may be warranted.
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