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The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) recently published a new white paper on its website about gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). The title of the paper is “The Health Risks of Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents used in MRIs” and the authors are Stephanie Fox-Rawlings, PhD, and Diana Zuckerman, PhD. The paper provides a detailed history of GBCAs from regulation, to gadolinium toxicity and its clinical effects, possible treatments, and environmental exposure.
While there is much that we know about gadolinium and GBCAs, the authors acknowledge that there are still uncertainties, but that “the research thus far suggests that some people with healthy kidney function have been harmed by gadolinium. This conclusion is based on the clear evidence of its accumulation and studies correlating its presence with symptoms”.
The authors pose several major questions concerning GBCAs and potential long-term harm. They also describe the difficulties involved with designing studies to answer those questions. However, they make it clear that new studies with carefully selected populations and study designs are needed.
Hopefully NCHR’s white paper about GBCAs will generate more research and interest in the potentially serious health risks associated with gadolinium retention and its long-term toxic effects.
About NCHR –
NCHR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that is focused on research that can improve the health of adults and children. They do not accept funding from companies that make medical treatments.
According to its website, NCHR focuses on the programs and policies that they believe can most benefit from the research-based information that they can provide and the attention that they can generate.
You can read the article and learn more about NCHR here –
Editorial by Sharon Williams
What difference does a name make? Evidently, when you are naming a disease it can make a huge difference. The name can limit the scope of medical research, and when it comes to gadolinium, it has the potential to exclude other patient populations who have been exposed to the same toxic metal.
In 1997, when a group of patients on dialysis developed what appeared to be a new skin disorder, it was called Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NFD). When researchers later learned that the problem went well beyond the patients’ skin and caused a systemic disease process, the name was changed to Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). The word “nephrogenic” in the name caused doctors and researchers to focus on people with severe renal disease. At the beginning, that made sense since the problem only had been seen in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Later we learned more about the cause.
In 2006, nine years after NSF/NFD was first diagnosed, the connection was made between NSF and gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) administered for MRIs. Even though impaired kidney function did not cause NSF, the focus remained on the “N” or nephrogenic part of NSF. Patients with normal kidney function were being overlooked; however, they were not unaffected by retained gadolinium from GBCAs.
The two of us, Sharon Williams and Hubbs Grimm, have been working together on gadolinium toxicity related issues since 2012 and this website since 2014. Since it affects us and our many new friends personally, coming to agreement on our “message” has not always been easy but we have done it.
Recently, out of frustration with lack of progress on matters related to gadolinium toxicity from MRI contrast agents, we wanted to do a post that was both reflective of where the medical community has been on this issue and where we believe it ought to go. While we had similar ideas, we differed in how we wanted to convey the message. So, we each worked on our own editorial and then we helped each other with the final copy as we have done many times in the past.
Tomorrow we will be posting two editorials about Gadolinium Toxicity. While our approaches are different, this is not a dispute between us or an attempt to decide which is right and which is wrong. Instead, it is two people, working together with great respect for each other, expressing their thoughts in an important discussion about something that affects countless other people. We invite industry representatives to contribute to this discussion.
We hope you will read both editorials and take time to consider the important points we make.
Sharon’s editorial is titled, “Gadolinium Toxicity: If not NSF, then what is it?”
Hubbs’ editorial is titled, “Gadolinium Toxicity – Let’s not make the same mistake again”
Sharon Williams and Hubbs Grimm
Coauthors of The Lighthouse Project
On December 19, 2017, the FDA issued a new Safety Announcement related to gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) administered for MRIs. One of the actions described in the announcement was the requirement that every patient be given a Medication Guide to read before receiving a GBCA. The Medication Guides for all GBCAs are now available. However, on May 16, 2018, the FDA issued an Update to the requirement that patients be given the Medication Guides prior to their MRIs.
It appears that the FDA has determined that, “hospital inpatients are not required to receive a Medication Guide unless the patient or caregiver requests it”.
Since most people are not aware that patients are retaining gadolinium from GBCAs administered for MRIs or that gadolinium is a toxic metal, they will not know to ask for a copy of the Medication Guide or that one even exists. That will result in a vulnerable population of patients not being fully-informed about the potential risk of gadolinium deposition in their brain, bones, skin, and other tissues.
As documented in the medical literature, patients in hospitals are at greater risk of having an acute kidney injury or AKI which can impair patients’ kidney function and potentially cause them to retain more gadolinium. I believe that patients in hospitals and/or their families should be informed about that risk and they should be given a Medication Guide for the GBCA that will be administered for any inpatient imaging procedures.
The following is the FDA’s May 16, 2018 Update – (more…)