Gadolinium is a heavy metal that can accumulate in the brain for years after a patient undergoes an MRI.
What is Gadolinium?
Gadolinium is a heavy metal that is used as a dye or “contrast agent.” It is given intravenously to a patient before medical scans, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA). Gadolinium helps doctors visualize bleeding, internal organs, blood vessels, cancer, and other internal tissues.
What is the Problem?
Gadolinium can stay in the body for years after a patient undergoes an MRI. In patients with normal kidney function who do not have any symptoms, this is called Gadolinium Storage Condition. In patients who develop symptoms, this is called Gadolinium Deposition Disease.
Symptoms of Gadolinium Retention
- Persistent headache
- Bone and joint pain
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Cognitive Impairment
- Clouded mentation often described as “brain fog”
- Significant pain in the arms and legs, sometimes in the torso
- Feeling of sharp pins and needles
- Sharp, cutting or burning pain in body
What is Gadolinium Deposition Disease?
Gadolinium Deposition Disease is when a person has normal kidney function but develops symptoms of gadolinium retention within a few hours or weeks after receiving an intravenous injection of gadolinium.
What is Gadolinium Storage Condition?
Gadolinium Storage Condition is when a person has normal kidney function but has been diagnosed with excess gadolinium in their body. These patients may not have any symptoms of gadolinium retention.
Types of Gadolinium
- Ablavar (gadofosveset trisodium)
- Dotarem (gadoterate meglumine)
- Eovist (gadoxetate disodium)
- Gadavist (gadobutrol)
- Magnevist (gadopentetate dimeglumine)
- MultiHance (gadobenate dimeglumine)
- Omniscan (gadodiamide)
- OptiMARK (gadoversetamide)
- ProHance (gadoteridol)
Study Finds Gadolinium in Brains of MRI Patients
In recent years, a number of studies have found gadolinium deposits in the brains of people who underwent MRIs. For example, a Mayo Clinic study published in the journal Radiology found that patients who had MRIs still had gadolinium in their brains after they died, suggesting that it can stay in the brain for decades.
Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
Gadolinium is known to cause a rare but severe kidney side effect called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). This side effect occurs in some patients with pre-existing kidney failure. NSF is a painful skin disease that causes hardening of the skin, which can involve the joints, and significant limitation of motion within weeks to months.