Gadolinium Toxicity

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Gadolinium Bioeffects and Toxicity – Special Issue of MRI Journal

A special issue of the journal Magnetic Resonance Imaging has been published and it is dedicated to “Gadolinium Bioeffects and Toxicity”.  The issue starts with a safety overview of GBCAs by MRI Safety expert Dr. Emanuel Kanal, and ends with articles by UNC Radiologist Dr. Richard Semelka.  One of the articles provides the initial description of Gadolinium Deposition Disease (GDD) which, while recently named, has been around for a while.

The issue is broken down into 4 sections as shown below.  The link will take you to the abstract, but you can access a PDF of the complete paper.

Introduction –
Kanal, E. (2016). Gadolinium based contrast agents (GBCA): Safety overview after 3 decades of clinical experience. Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

MRI Findings –
Kanda, T., et al (2016). Gadolinium deposition in the brain. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1346–1350.

Radbruch, A. (2016). Are some agents less likely to deposit gadolinium in the brain? Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1351–1354.

Ramalho, J., et al, (2016). Technical aspects of MRI signal change quantification after gadolinium-based contrast agents’ administration. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1355–1358.

Basic Sciences –
Murata, N., et al, (2016). Gadolinium tissue deposition in brain and bone. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1359–1365.

Prybylski, J. P., et al, 2016). Gadolinium deposition in the brain: Lessons learned from other metals known to cross the blood–brain barrier. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1366–1372.

Swaminathan, S., et al, (2016). Gadolinium toxicity: Iron and ferroportin as central targets. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1373–1376.

Tweedle, M. F., et al, (2016). Gadolinium deposition: Is it chelated or dissociated gadolinium? How can we tell? Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1377–1382.

Future Directions –
Semelka, R. C., et al, (2016). Gadolinium deposition disease: Initial description of a disease that has been around for a while. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1383–1390.

Prybylski, J. P., et al, (2016). Can gadolinium be re-chelated in vivo? Considerations from decorporation therapy. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1391–1393.

Ramalho, J., et al, (2016). Gadolinium toxicity and treatment. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1394–1398.

Semelka, R. C., et al, (2016). Summary of special issue on gadolinium bioeffects and toxicity with a look to the future. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 34(10), 1399–1401.

My thoughts –
I believe this Special Issue is an important step in moving the discussion about gadolinium retention in patients with normal renal function forward.  It seems that everyone now agrees that all patients exposed to gadolinium-based contrast agents retain some gadolinium from each dose of contrast that they receive. However, regardless of what you call it, patients are suffering from the toxic effects of retained gadolinium.

There is no doubt in my mind or the minds of other affected patients that retained gadolinium can cause chronic clinical symptoms of varying severity. Hopefully a large population of affected patients will be interviewed and examined soon.  I believe that discussing symptoms with patients might trigger a thought process that leads researchers to uncover the missing pieces of the puzzle that explain the difference between what has been seen in brain tissue that contains gadolinium and the symptoms that patients are experiencing.

Sharon Williams

Radiologists are in best position to watch patients’ backs

An August 1, 2015 article by Richard Dargan, Radiology Society of North America (RSNA), reviewed recent studies that reported finding evidence of gadolinium retention in the brains of patients with normal renal function.  The article, “Radiology Should Take Lead in MRI Contrast Media Use, Research”, also included comments from Emanuel Kanal, M.D., regarding the role radiologists should play in MRI contrast agent research and usage.  Dr. Kanal, a Professor of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), chairman of the American College of Radiology MR Safety Committee from 2002-2012, and chairman of the new American Board of Magnetic Resonance Safety (ABMRS), made his comments in an interview with RSNA News.

Recent research has shown that gadolinium-based-contrast agents (GBCAs) are leaving residual gadolinium in the brains of patients, including patients with normal renal function.  Two regions in particular have been affected: the dentate nucleus and the globus pallidus.  A 2013 study by Kanda et al, first reported finding high signal intensity in those two brain regions on unenhanced T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images that appeared to be related to the increasing cumulative dose of a gadolinium-based contrast agent.  Since then, additional studies have been published which confirmed the increased signal intensity is the result of gadolinium accumulation within the brain.  (more…)

New MRI Safety Certification Exams cover long-term adverse effects of GBCAs

On June 24, 2015, the American Board of Magnetic Resonance Safety (ABMRS) administered exams, which will for the first time, certify Magnetic Resonance Medical Directors/Physicians (MRMD) and Magnetic Resonance Safety Officers (MRSO).  A third test, for Magnetic Resonance Safety Experts (MRSE), is expected to be ready for administration on or after the 4th quarter of 2015.

As we previously reported, the purpose of the ABMRS is to improve the safety of medical and research magnetic resonance (MR) environments.  That includes the safety of MR facilities and the certification and qualification of the professionals who oversee the physical and operational safety of the MR equipment, environment, and processes.

Dr. Emanuel Kanal, ABMRS Chairman, told us that he included in the examination content requirements that ABMRS certified MR practitioners be familiar with gadolinium based contrast agent safety issues – and that among the issues with which they want them to be familiar are long-term potential adverse effects of the administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents.   (more…)

June 2015 Podcast of Group Discussion on gadolinium-based contrast media

If you would like to see and hear some of the experts discuss the issues surrounding gadolinium retention from gadolinium-based contrast agents, you should check out the June 2015 Radiology Podcast moderated by Herbert Y. Kressel, MD, Editor of Radiology.  It can be found here –  You can also view it here –

Guests are:
Alexander Radbruch, MD, JD, Department of Neuroradiology, University of Heidelberg Medical Center, Heidelberg, Germany
Robert J. McDonald, MD, PhD, Department of Radiology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Mn
Emanuel Kanal, MD, Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa
Michael F. Tweedle, PhD, Department of Radiology and James Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Tomonori Kanda, MD, PhD, Department of Radiology, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan  (more…)

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