Material relating to Myodil

Scope and Content

This section contains material relating to Myodil, a contrast agent used in myelography, the imaging of the spinal canal and its contents by means of contrast agents. Myodil, the commercial name for Iophendylate, was an oil-based contrast agent manufactured by Glaxo. It became widely-used as the contrast agent of choice for myelography from the 1950s, as it was considered very safe and easy to use, and throughout the 1960s Myodil was used extensively in radiological departments throughout the country. It would be routinely injected into the patient's spine, allowing enhanced images of areas where doctors suspected back pain originated. After the X-ray had been taken, the Myodil was removed. With the development of a more versatile contrast agent, Metrizamide, in the 1970s, Myodil had fallen out of use by the early 1980s. From the 1960s and increasingly during the 1970s, however, patients who had previously undergone myelography using Myodil began to develop a painful condition called arachnoiditis, which involved inflammation of the spinal column nerve routes. It was established that Myodil was, in fact, toxic, and that the painful inflammation was caused by traces of Myodil which had remained in the patient's spinal area. In 1995, Glaxo was sued by patients who had been affected by the use of Myodil. Ian Isherwood acted as an expert witness for Glaxo in the litigation.


Material in this section is arranged into the following sub-divisions:  

  • ISH/1/13/1 Publications relating to Myodil
  • ISH/1/13/2 Material relating to the Myodil litigation case.

Access Information

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