Gadolinium Toxicity

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Gadolinium in Ovaries 9.5 Years after GBCA Administration

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Editorial by Sharon Williams
May 2020

While being in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic might not seem like the best time to write an editorial about long-term gadolinium retention, waiting longer was not a good option for me.  I believe that the information I want to share with patients, doctors, and gadolinium researchers needs to be in the public domain.

Anyone who follows our posts knows that none have been made since mid-2019.  I will not go into all the reasons for that, but one of the issues resulted in the removal of my ovaries late last year.  Thankfully, no cancer was found, but something else that should not have been there was – gadolinium.  Testing performed by Doctor’s Data determined that there was gadolinium in both of my ovaries which were removed more than 9.5 years after my last dose of a gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA).  I must admit that I was not surprised, since gadolinium was also found in my thyroid tissue that was removed in 2014.

At the time of all my MRIs, I had what the NSF literature refers to as “normal” renal function, meaning an eGFR greater than 60. I have had 5 MRIs with a linear GBCA that is no longer on the market, and my last dose was 10 years ago in March of 2010. I have no history of brain tumors or cancer anywhere in my body. Based on what patients like me have been told, I should not have retained gadolinium from the contrast agent, but I did, and I have proof of long-term gadolinium deposition in my organs. While I understand that deposition alone does not prove causation, I believe it raises serious questions about the long-term effects of gadolinium retention that need to be answered.

You might be wondering if I made the FDA or anyone else aware of the fact that gadolinium was found in my ovarian tissue 9.5+ years after my last dose of a GBCA, and the answer is, yes, I did.  I sent the FDA and more than 20 other doctors and scientists a copy of a document that contained details of my GBCA history and results of testing my blood, urine, and thyroid and ovarian tissue for gadolinium.  While I heard back from the FDA and a few doctors, nothing else has come from it at this time.

Whether the gadolinium level in my tissue was high or not is not the issue since gadolinium should not remain in the body many years after MRIs with a GBCA.  As the FDA noted on page 16 of its Briefing Document for the September 8, 2017, MIDAC public meeting about Gadolinium Retention, “detection of gadolinium weeks or months following GBCA administration is considered abnormal as gadolinium is a trace element and not involved in any physiologic processes.” Sherry et al. (2009) reported that gadolinium is toxic in biological systems that require calcium for proper function due to the very similar radius of the Gd3+ and Ca2+ ions.  Surely, based on what we have learned about gadolinium (Gd) and Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), no one can honestly think that patients who retain toxic gadolinium for many months or years will not be harmed by it in some way at some point in time.

Until mid-2015, the FDA had not recognized that patients with normal renal function were retaining gadolinium from GBCAs administered for MRIs. While the FDA and Radiology community now acknowledge that everyone who has an MRI with a GBCA likely retains gadolinium from each dose of contrast they receive, so far, they continue to say that they have seen no evidence that retained gadolinium causes harm. I find that statement hard to reconcile with what we know already from the published facts about NSF, GBCAs, and the toxic effects of gadolinium.

While some may think the long-term effects of gadolinium retention are still unknown, I cannot believe it is a benign substance since I continue to experience symptoms of gadolinium toxicity more than 10 years later. It seems clear that a gadolinium study to evaluate patients like me is urgently needed. In my opinion, the issue is not about the toxic effects of gadolinium when it is retained in the human body since the NSF-related literature already informed us about that. The problem is no one understands what it is doing to patients with normal renal function when less gadolinium may have been retained.

As we have said many times before, Gadolinium Toxicity is a “Disease of Degrees” with NSF being the worst manifestation of it when large amounts of gadolinium are retained.  However, based on the published facts about gadolinium and GBCAs, we see no reason to think that retained gadolinium will cause full-blown NSF or nothing at all.

It is my belief that the medical community will not fully-appreciate the scope of the problems related to gadolinium retention until symptomatic patients with normal renal function are interviewed, examined, and tested. If all patients retain some gadolinium from every dose of contrast that they receive, why is it that only a small percentage of people report having symptoms of toxicity? Could asymptomatic patients who have retained Gd go on to develop gadolinium-induced health issues later?  Why are patients who have received macrocyclic agents for their MRIs experiencing intense symptoms; could they be retaining the intact macrocyclic GBCA?

There are many unanswered questions about the long-term effects of gadolinium retention, and I believe patients who have been affected by the toxic effects of gadolinium are key to finding some of those answers.  What you learn from patients like me might help guide new research.

Researchers interested in conducting a study with me or other patients with normal renal function who have evidence of gadolinium retention and symptoms of gadolinium toxicity, should email me at Sharon@GadoliniumToxicity.com.  I sincerely hope that researchers contact me since this problem is not going away.

Sharon Williams

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References
9/8/2017 FDA Briefing Document for Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee Meeting about Gadolinium Retention.  https://www.fda.gov/media/107133/download

Sherry, A. D., Caravan, P., & Lenkinski, R. E. (2009). Primer on gadolinium chemistry. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging : JMRI, 30(6), 1240–1248. Retrieved from http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2853020&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract

7/27/15 FDA Safety Announcement – https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-evaluating-risk-brain-deposits-repeated-use-gadolinium-based

5/22/2017 FDA Safety Communication –  https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-identifies-no-harmful-effects-date-brain-retention-gadolinium

12/19/2017 & 5/16/2018 FDA Safety Announcements can be found here:
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-warns-gadolinium-based-contrast-agents-gbcas-are-retained-body

 


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