Gadolinium FAQ

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The experienced dangerous drug attorneys at Cutter Law answer gadolinium frequently asked questions.

What is gadolinium?

A gadolinium contrast agent (GCBA) is an injectable liquid substance containing the heavy metal, gadolinium. It is used in MRIs and MRAs. There are two types of GBCAs currently approved by the FDA: linear and macrocyclic agents.

What is gadolinium used for?

Gadolinium contrast media (or contrast dye) is used in approximately 30 percent of MRI scans to make the images more clear. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans frequently performed to provide radiologists with a picture inside the patient’s body. It is given via intravenous injection that takes, on average, between 10 and 30 seconds.

How long does gadolinium stay in the body?

Gadolinium has been shown to stay in the bodies of certain patients for many years after an MRI. The most common method to test for the presence of retained gadolinium is through a 24-hour urine test, which was designed by the Mayo Clinic.

Is gadolinium radioactive?

No, gadolinium is not radioactive.

Is gadolinium safe?

No, gadolinium is toxic. It is a man-made heavy metal that can cause injury when it is retained in the human body.

What is the concern about gadolinium?

In addition to Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), one of the primary concerns regarding gadolinium is something known as gadolinium retention, gadolinium deposition disease, or gadolinium storage condition.

This problem occurs when the gadolinium from GCBAs breaks apart into its free form before it can be expelled by urination, which can result in serious adverse reactions or side effects. This free-form gadolinium has been found in various parts of the human body, including the brain, bones, skin, and other pockets within the body.

There are two, recently-named conditions resulting from Gadolinium retention: Gadolinium Storage Condition and Gadolinium Deposition Disease.

Gadolinium storage condition

Gadolinium storage condition is a phrase used to describe situations in which gadolinium builds up in the patient’s body.

Gadolinium deposition disease

Gadolinium deposition disease refers to a condition in which patients who have normal or near-normal kidney function develop symptoms that appear anywhere from hours to months after the contrast agent is administered. In such cases, the patient has no preexisting disease that would explain the symptoms. Symptoms of gadolinium deposition disease include bone pain, tissue burning, and brain fog. As the disease progresses, it can cause thickening and discoloration of the skin.

What is the difference between gadolinium deposition disease and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis?

Although NSF (nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) and gadolinium deposition disease are both caused by gadolinium exposure, they are different conditions. NSF is found in patients who suffer from renal insufficiency and are given gadolinium. Because gadolinium is expelled by the kidneys, any renal insufficiency delays the removal of gadolinium from the patient’s body, exposing them to a risk of NSF.

What are gadolinium side effects?

  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis
  • Gadolinium deposition disease
  • Gadolinium storage condition
  • Burning sensations inside the body
  • Cognitive problems
  • Brain fog
  • Speech difficulty
  • Thickening or hardening of the skin
  • Body pain
  • Tightness in joints
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Facial swelling

What does the FDA say about gadolinium?

In September 2017, the Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee (MIDAC) of the US Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly to add more warnings to gadolinium-based contrast agents. These warnings will include the risk of gadolinium retention in a patient’s body, including the brain.

The committee members claimed that they did not find enough evidence to show that various symptoms were caused by gadolinium retention, but were still concerned that patients should be warned about the risk. A 2017 report from the FDA indicated that gadolinium retention is higher in patients who receive a linear contrast agent than those who receive a macrocyclic agent.

Have there been any gadolinium retention studies done?

Yes, there have been studies on gadolinium retention. One study, published in the journal Radiology found that even in subjects without severe renal dysfunction, administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents increased the risk of gadolinium accumulation in the patient’s brain.

Have there been any gadolinium retention lawsuits filed?

Yes. In October 2016, Cutter Law, P.C. filed the first gadolinium retention lawsuit against the maker of a gadolinium-based contrast agent. Since that time we have filed a number of lawsuits for patients living throughout the United States in both state and federal court.

Among the allegations made in the gadolinium lawsuits are that the makers of the contrast agents did not warn patients about the health risks associated with the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents.

Gadolinium Attorney

If you or a loved one has retained gadolinium and is suffering, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that your rights are protected.

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