Gadolinium is a contrast agent used with MRIs to detect and view disrupted areas of the brain and abnormal activity of the central nervous system. Side effects are uncommon but may include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abnormal or unpleasant taste in your mouth, numbness or tingly feeling.
Walker, Texas Ranger Chuck Norris, recently filed a lawsuit against several medical device manufacturers after he says the chemical gadolinium left his wife, Gena, suffering from a multitude of painful symptoms.
According to NY Daily News, “Norris is seeking $10 million in damages, but Gena says the goal was never the money. Instead, she and her husband simply want to draw attention to the issue and seek justice for those who can’t afford treatment.”
A 2015 Radiology journal press release revealed that although gadolinium contrast agents are generally considered safe, in the last 10 years, studies have reported that prolonged, elevated levels of gadolinium in the body may cause a condition called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in patients with severe kidney disease.
The benefit of the contrast MRIs are considered superior for specific problems, such as brain tumors or lesions and enhances and improves the quality of the images. Contrast dye enters lesions which are active with breakdown of the blood-brain-barrier which “enhances” the lesions, but these lesions would generally be T2 bright and visible on a non-contrast scan. It isn’t likely that doing an MRI brain with contrast would show lesions which were not visible on the non-contrast scan.
“Gadolinium-based contrast agents are extremely valuable to patients worldwide and have been so for decades,” he said. “We cannot unnecessarily deprive our patients of crucial, even life-saving medical data from gadolinium contrast-enhanced MRI. Nor can we ignore these new findings and continue prescribing them as we have until now, without change.” said Emanuel Kanal, M.D., director of magnetic resonance services and professor of radiology and neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
I plan to talk to my neurologist about this and am leaning towards requesting no contrast at my next MRI. Do you think Norris’ lawsuit may influence your continued use of contrast?
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