Gadolinium is a contrast agent used in MRI. Gadolinium can cause side effects ranging from minor skin irritations to debilitating, and sometimes fatal, Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). Gadolinium is especially dangerous for patients with poor renal function. Below is a list of side effects associated with Gadolinium, including the symptoms of NSF.
Note: We are not medical professionals, and these may not be comprehensive lists. Please contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or side effects, or similar health issues.
Gadolinium Side Effects
Allergic Reaction: Allergic reaction to Gadolinium can be very dangerous or may simply cause some mild symptoms. Symptoms can include hives, skin rashes, itchy skin, itchy eyes, swelling of the face, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Irritation of the Vein: Gadolinium injection can cause pain and burning at the injection site and irritation of the vein leading to blood clots and skin problems.
Other Side Effects: Even the healthiest of patients may experience side effects including headache, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, and nausea.
Gadolinium and Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis:
NSF is a very serious danger for patients with poor renal function. Gadolinium is very toxic, but is normally removed by the kidneys before it can spread throughout the body. When the kidneys are not functioning at their best Gadolinium can cause NSF.
Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis typically starts out with tightening and thickening of the skin and can progress to complete immobility and eventually scarring of the internal organs. NSF can be fatal. Symptoms can appear in the first few days after Gadolinium use, but can take up to 18 months to appear. With early detection the progression may be stopped or even reversed.
Symptoms of NSF include: tightening of the skin; skin that feels woody and develops an orange peel like texture; red patches or dark patches on the skin; thickening of the skin around the joints; burning, itching, or sharp pains in the affected areas; skin lesions; muscle weakness; beep bone pain in the hips and ribs; hypertension that precedes the appearance of skin lesions; yellow plaques in or near the eyes; calcification of soft tissues.
The tightening around the joints can limit mobility so that normal daily tasks are no longer possible. At first it becomes difficult to bend your arms and legs. Victims of NSF may be confined to a wheelchair. Over time the constriction can make it difficult or impossible to breath and can restrict the movement of internal organs to the point that they cease to function.
The internal organs themselves can become so scarred that they no longer function, resulting in death. Although it starts out with the skin, NSF can progress to the heart, lungs, diaphragm, and other organs.
NSF Testing: If you have had an MRI and experience the symptoms of NSF you must contact your doctor right away for testing. NSF affects people with poor renal function who receive Gadolinium. Even if you believe your kidneys are healthy, your may have kidney problems that you are not aware of leading to Gadolinium side effects.