Gadolinium and Its Side Effects

Gadolinium, an element (GD), is a shiny white metallic chemical obtained from rare minerals such as bastnasite and monazite. Discovered by Jean de Marignac in 1880, gadolinium  is named after Johan Gadolin, a Finnish scientist who was first able to isolate an oxide of the element.  Gadolinium is utilized in several medical procedures; gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCA) are used in diagnostic imaging procedures to enhance the quality of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for improved images of body organs and tissues, and magnetic resonance angiography (MRS), to evaluate blood vessels and detect heart disorders, stroke, or vascular disease.

Approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, there are five types of GBACs:

  • Magnevist

    (gadopentetate dimeglumine) manufactured by Bayer Healthcare

  • MultiHance

    (gadobenate dimeglumine) and

  • ProHance

    (gadoteridol) both manufactured by Bracco

  • Omniscan

    (gadodiamide) manufactured by GE Healthcare

  • OptiMARK

    (gadoversetamide) manufactured by Mallinckrodt

Even though Omniscan is most often used, the FDA has not determined whether one GBCA is more risky than another, and, as of 2009, GBCAs for MRAs are not approved.  Some radiologists continue to use them believing that GBCAs provide better detailed images of blood vessels.

Common Side Effects of a Gadolinium-based Contrast Agent

Allergic reactions are the most common side effect from a GBCA injection; these are often mild reactions but can be severe and even fatal.  Some patients also experience painful skin conditions such as a rash, sweating, itching, and hives.  Additionally, the injection may cause irritation to the veins, causing the formation of blood clots.

Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF) and Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NFD)

Patients with kidney inefficiencies (kidney disease) and those with a history of impaired drug elimination are at greater risk for developing nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) and nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NSD) after a GBCA injection.  NSF/NSD affects the connective tissue in the body and can results in the hardening of the skin and joint immobility. The most life-threatening result of NSF/NSD is the possible impact on the lungs and diaphragm.  Breathing becomes restricted leading to insufficient oxygen intake and ultimately death.  There is no known treatment for NSF/NSD.

The University of Michigan’s Department of Radiology conducted a study on patients at their medical center. Of the twenty-nine patients found to have contracted NSF from November 1999-December 2006, twenty-five received a GBCA injection before diagnosis of their NSF. The study concluded that there is “the strong association between nephrogenic system fibrosis and gadolinium-based contrast administration.” In an article published in Current Medical Chemistry, researchers concluded that “[t]he medical community must be apprised of the concern surrounding the use of gadolinium contrast agent in patients with even moderate renal failure, considering that the number of at risk persons is 20 times greater than that of patients needing dialysis/ transplantation.”

Have You Been Affected by Gadolinium?

Any individual or the relative of an individual who has suffered due to Gadolinim’s side effects is permitted to file a lawsuit.  The lawyers can help you determine whether you are qualified to seek compensation. You may be eligible to seek reimbursement for medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive damages (compensation granted for losses suffered).

Different states have different legislation regarding medical lawsuits, so it is essential to hire an experienced and effective lawyer who can file the case. If you need further information about the harmful side effects of Gadolinium or legal advice concerning personal injury matters, you are invited to contact or to fill out the form on this website for a free case evaluation.

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