Cost-effectiveness and patient tolerance of low-attenuation oral contrast material: Milk versus volumen

Wan Koo Chi, Lisa R. Shah-Patel, Jeanne W. Baer, David H. Frager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of our study was to prospectively compare the cost, effectiveness, and patient tolerance of milk and VoLumen, a 0.1% barium suspension, in patients undergoing abdominal and pelvic CT with oral and IV contrast media. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Two hundred fifteen consecutive outpatients were randomly assigned to receive either whole milk (n = 115) or VoLumen (n = 100). Results were independently reviewed by two radiologists who were blinded to the oral contrast agent used. Degree of bowel distention was qualitatively scored on a 4-point scale, and bowel wall visibility was graded qualitatively on a yes-or-no basis. A questionnaire regarding oral contrast tolerability was provided to each patient. Cost comparison of the two agents was performed. RESULTS. No statistically significant differences were seen between whole milk and VoLumen with respect to degree of bowel distention and mural visualization for all segments of bowel studied (p > 0.05 for both reviewers). Significantly more patients ranked milk as pleasant in taste compared with VoLumen (p < 0.0001). More patients preferred milk compared with VoLumen (p < 0.0001). Milk was better tolerated than VoLumen, with fewer abdominal side effects, including abdominal discomfort (p = 0.019), cramping (p = 0.019), nausea (p = 0.016), and diarrhea (p = 0.0002). The cost per patient for VoLumen is $18 compared with $1.48 for milk. CONCLUSION. Whole milk is comparable to VoLumen with respect to bowel distention and bowel wall visualization and has a lower cost, better patient acceptance, and fewer adverse symptoms. Milk is a cost-effective alternative to VoLumen as a low-attenuation oral contrast agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1307-1313
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Low-attenuation oral contrast material
  • Milk
  • Patient tolerance
  • Volumen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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