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Gadolinium side effects could result in the development of a rare and potentially fatal disorder for those with moderate to end-stage renal disease.The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk are no longer investigating Gadolinium Side Effects Lawsuits.  The information on this page is provided for information purposes only.

The contrast injection is often used during MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) tests to enhance the images and allow the physicians interpreting the exam to distinguish blood vessels from nearby tissue.

For those without a fully functioning kidney, side effects of gadolinium contrast agents could lead to the development of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), also known as Nephrogrenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NFD) .

The rare progressive disorder is associated with fibrosis, or scarring, of the skin and internal organs.  This results in thick, coarse and hard skin which severely restricts movement of the joints.  In some cases, the gadolinium skin disorder can lead to death.

GADOLINIUM DANGERS FOR THOSE WITH KIDNEY PROBLEMS

Gadolinium is a paramagnetic metal ion which tends to move into magnetic fields.  This makes it useful as a contrast “dye” during MRI and MRA, which are done to obtain detailed and clear images of internal organs and vessels.  Gadolinium contrast is injected directly into the patient’s vein so that the blood vessels can be identified on the films.

For those with proper renal function, gadolinium is eliminated almost entirely by the kidneys after the exam.  When a patient has kidney problems , they are unable to clear the contrast agent out of their body, resulting in prolonged exposure to gadolinium in their tissues.  This may lead to the development of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, which was previously known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NSF/NFD).

>>LEARN MORE:Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis

The appearance of skin may start as red or darkened patches, and over time the surface may begin to feel woody and resemble the texture of an orange peel.  It is usually associated with symptoms of burning, itching or severe pains in the affected areas.  While the skin thickening usually involves the arms, legs, hands and feet, it can involve the trunk and also involve fibrosis in the diaphragm, thigh muscles, lower abdomen and lung vessels.

There is no known consistently successful treatment for NSF/NFD, and the problems can develop quickly leading to the need for a wheelchair within weeks of the first symptoms.

>>LEARN MORE: NSF/NFD Research

GADOLINIUM DANGERS AND WARNINGS

Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis/Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy is still not fully understood, but researchers have indicated that there is a direct connection between development of the disorder and gadolinium contrasts.  In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory regarding the dangers of gadolinium injections and a “black box” warning was added to the contrast agents in 2007.  Experts have recommended avoiding gadolinium contrast for individuals with acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease,  renal failure, those on dialysis and those who have had a kidney transplant.

Individuals with kidney problems who require an MRI or MRA should carefully weigh the risk of gadolinium side effects with their physicians and consider alternatives to an MRI/MRA with contrast.  For those with moderate to end-stage renal disease who do receive an MRI with gadolinium, the FDA has recommended that physicians consider prompt dialysis in an effort to eliminate circulating gadolinium.

>>INFORMATION: MRI Contrast Side Effects / MRA Contrast Problems

Signs of gadolinium side effects after an MRI with contrast include:

  • Progressive thickening of the skin
  • Contractures around joints which could impair movement and mobility
  • Swelling, especially of the lower extremities
  • Redness or burning sensation
  • Pain in the hip bones or ribs
  • Yellow spots on the whites of the eyes
  • Generalized muscle weakness

Less severe gadolinium side effects after receiving the contrast injection could include allergic reactions which can lead to skin conditions, such as rashes, sweating, itching, hives and swelling of the face.  It can also cause irritation to the veins where it is injected, causing skin problems and possible formation of blood clots.

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