On December 19, 2017, the FDA issued a public safety announcement, stating it is “requiring several actions to alert health care professionals and patients about the gadolinium retention.”

What is Gadolinium?

Also referred to as an MRI dye, the medium is injected into the patient through the bloodstream prior to the scanning process. Gadolinium leaves the body after the MRI or MRA through urination – usually within 24 hours. The decision to use gadolinium is left to the discretion of the patient’s doctor, technologist or nurse, and is based on the patient’s condition. Today, a patient who is pregnant or who has severe kidney disease would not be given gadolinium.

There are several contrast agents, referred to as gadolinium contrast medium, used in coordination with MRI and MRA scans. These are:

  • Omniscan (gadodiamide)
  • Dotarem (gadoterate meglumine)
  • ProHance (gadoteridol)
  • Magnevist (gadopentetate dimeglumine)
  • Eovist (gadoxetate disodium)
  • OptiMARK (gadoversetamide)
  • MultiHance (gadobenate dimeglumine)
  • Ablavar (gadofosveset trisodium)
  • Gadavist (gadobutrol)

Are there risks associated with gadolinium?

Used throughout the world as an MRI contrast dye, gadolinium does not pose any health risks for most people. However, it has been reported that some patients may experience an immediate response to the drug that includes the following: skin rash, anaphylactic reactions, nausea, dizziness or headache. Others have experienced gadolinium retention, which has developed into NSF/NFD or gadolinium deposition disease.

As the name implies, gadolinium retention happens when the metal does not leave the body through the kidneys and urination. Instead, the metal settles in the brain, bone and tissues. The person does not have to have any kidney issue or renal problems for this condition to occur, and recent studies concerning the brain indicate that gadolinium deposits occur in more people than originally thought. The effects of gadolinium in the brain are still unknown, but future studies are planned. Additionally, there is no known treatment for those with gadolinium retention.

Gadolinium lawsuits filed against manufacturers claim that patients developed NSF/NFD after a gadolinium injection. NSF/NFD is a rare disease that affects internal organs and the skin. People with kidney problems, including transplants with renal function issues, are the highest at risk for NSF/NFD.

Those diagnosed with NSF/NFD suffer from symptoms including the following:

  • Pain in the bone
  • Tightening and hardening of skin
  • Tightening of muscles
  • Blood clots
  • Itching or burning
  • Reduced internal organ function

The condition can be fatal for some people or lead to severe disability. Currently, there is no cure for NSF/NFD, according to the Mayo Clinic, and the treatments that are available, are not effective for everyone.

Gadolinium deposition disease is diagnosed when people experience problems that will not go away, after receiving an injection of the metal contrast agent. These problems have involved brain fog, burning, sharp or cutting body pain, joint and bone pain, a headache that persists and cognitive impairment. Patients with gadolinium deposition disease include those with no renal failure as well as with moderate renal failure. Medical researchers are just beginning to acknowledge the existence of gadolinium-related disorders and so there is no known or established treatment for gadolinium deposition disease at this time.

How can a gadolinium lawsuit help?

Many people assert that a lawsuit is a way to get money out of a company, but that is not accurate. The purpose of a gadolinium lawsuit is to seek financial reparation, or compensation, for the damages alleged victims have suffered. These damages include physical, emotional and mental anguish; the costs of current and future medical care; and loss of income caused by the injury/illness. If a family has lost a loved one, they may be able to seek financial compensation to cover funeral and burial costs.