Computed tomography (CT) is one of the most widely used clinical imaging modalities. In order to increase the sensitivity of CT, small iodinated compounds are used as injectable contrast agents. However, the iodinated contrast agents are excreted through the kidney and have short circulation times. This rapid renal clearance not only restricts in vivo applications that require long circulation times but also sometimes induces serious adverse effects related to the excretion pathway. In addition, the X-ray attenuation of iodine is not efficient for clinical CT that uses high-energy X-ray. Due to these limitations, nano-sized iodinated CT contrast agents have been developed that can increase the circulation time and decrease the adverse effects. In addition to iodine, nanoparticles based on heavy atoms such as gold, lanthanides, and tantalum are used as more efficient CT contrast agents. In this review, we summarize the recent progresses made in nano-sized CT contrast agents.
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