Gadolinium-based MRI dye contrasts, also referred to as gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are used during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure, as the use of a gadolinium, a paramagnetic metal ion,  in an MRI leads to a superior representation of the patient’s organs and tissues.

However, in some patients who have been given an injection of a GBCA prior to receiving an MRI, there have been reports of the development of a life-threatening disease known as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF).

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is a fairly new disease with the first case being recorded in 1997. Side effects related to NSF include the following:

  • Thickening and hardening of the skin
  • Dark patches on the skin
  • Skin irritation such as severe burning or itching
  • Yellow spots on eyes
  • Joint immobility
  • Joint pain

Patients who develop NSF are usually those already suffering from poor kidney health, also called renal insufficiency. The development of NSF can lead to further deterioration of kidney function and overall health. Patients with renal insufficiency are unable to properly remove gadolinium due to kidney malfunction, and thus, the chemical dye remains in their bodies resulting in an increased risk of developing NSF.

In December 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a demand that manufacturers of gadolinium-based contrast agents update the product’s warning label to include information about NSF, especially in regards to patients with renal insufficiency. NSF has been known to be a fatal disease, and there currently is not a cure.

 

MRI Dyes Containing Gadolinium
Omniscan, OptiMARK, ProHance, MultiHance, Magnevist