Gadolinium contrast media, which is also known as MRI contrast media are chemical particles used in MRI scans. It helps is enhancing or improving the quality of MRI images. It improves the accuracy of the MRI scans by improving the visibility of blood vessels, inflammation, tumors etc. These contrast mediums are generally injected into the body as a part of MRI scan.
The injected Gadolinium contrast media is generally flushed out by our kidneys. However, it is noted in few cases that the Gadolinium accumulates in the body and results in various side effects.
Side Effects of Gadolinium
The side effects of Gadolinium which are noted by doctors are as follows: –
#1. Patients with kidney problems are advised by doctors not to inject Gadolinium since kidney plays the main role in getting the body rid of the chemical particles through urine excretion. In patients with kidney problems, the substance is not removed completely leading to an increased risk of Gadolinium deposition disease.
#2. The most common short-term side effects of Gadolinium are nausea, vomiting, itching or feeling of cold sensation at the place of injection. However, they are likely to be healed within 48 hours of injection.
#3. The long-term side effects generally result due to the accumulation of Gadolinium in the body in case of patients who have undergone MRI more than once.
- A small percentage of people going through MRI scan have also experienced an allergy-like reaction in the skin or swelling of mouth and lips or breathing problem. These adverse reactions should be treated with medicines immediately.
- In case of pregnancy, radiologists advise that the patients inform the doctors previously so that the risks of MRI scan for the mother and the baby can be communicated to the patient. Also, if a patient is breastfeeding, there are chances of transmission of a fraction of the particles through breast milk.
- Another long-term side effect of Gadolinium particles may be nephrogenic systemic fibrosis or NSF. It is a disease which causes skin thickening and tightening and also damage to internal organs. The chances of its occurrence are very less; however, in patients with kidney problems the chance of occurrence is slightly more.
Prevention of Side Effects of Gadolinium
The minor side effects like itching, sweating, facial swelling, rapid breath, temporary hypertension, nausea, localized pain etc. cannot be predicted by doctors before the MRI scan. Hence for these, it is usually recommended to take medication only if it doesn’t settle down within 48hours.
However, for the long-term side effects, it is advised by doctors to reveal the complete medical history of the patients. If the patient has a kidney problem or has a history of severe allergic reactions, then the steps are taken accordingly before MRI.
The radiologists may suggest a pre-medication before injection of the Gadolinium contrast medium into the patient’s body to minimize risks of side effects. However, pre-medication can only minimize the risk and cannot eliminate it completely.
Hence, it can be said that the minor side effects of gadolinium are very usual in most patients going through Gadolinium injection for MRI purpose, and these side effects are also easily curable. However, the long-term reactions of gadolinium toxicity can lead to much significant side effects if not treated timely with proper medical care.
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