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Dangerous Drugs & Medical Devices News & Commentary on Prescription Drug & Medical Device Lawsuits

Gadolinium (MRI & MRA Contrast Dye)

Posted in Misc. Drugs

SAFETY ALERT: PATIENTS AT RISK OF CONTRACTING RARE DISEASE AFTER RECEIVING MRI OR MRA

When a patient undergoes an MRI or an MRA scan, a contrast dye is often used to make the patient’s blood vessels more visible to the doctors.  A commonly used contrast agent is Gadolinium.  Gadolinium is a rare-earth element that has proven to be very useful as a contrast agent.  Unfortunately, it has also proven to cause a rare and sometimes-fatal disease in a number of patients.  The disease is called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, or NSF.  NSF can be a side-effect of Gadolinium contrast dyes.  Patients most at risk of contracting NSF after the use of Gadolinium are those patients with weakened kidneys.  Patients with weakened kidneys cannot always process the Gadolinium fast enough, so the Gadolinium stays in the body too long.

The first case of NSF wasn’t reported until 1997, and it wasn’t until several years later that scientists linked NSF with Gadolinium.  In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that the FDA made manufacturers of Gadolinium dyes add a black box warning to the product.  Because of this, it wasn’t until 2007 that most doctors became aware of how dangerous it can be to give Gadolinium to a patient who may have kidney problems.  Thanks to the black box warning, doctors now are more likely to verify that a patient’s kidneys are functioning properly before injecting them with Gadolinium.  What’s so troubling is that thousands of patients who didn’t (and may still not) know their kidneys aren’t functioning properly received injections of Gadolinium. 

How do I know if I’ve been injured by a Gadolinium dye?

There are several symptoms of NSF that are visible to the naked eye.  The first and most obvious is very dry, very hard skin.  Everyone gets dry patches of skin – that’s not what NSF looks like.  Skin affected by NSF has been called “alligator skin” because it is so rough, so leathery, and so hard.  People with advanced stages of NSF report that their skin is literally rock-hard.  The affected skin sometimes changes color, often to a reddish or yellowish color.  NSF can make it very difficult to fully extend your arms and legs.  In advanced stages of NSF, patients will start to curl into a fetal position because they cannot extend their arms and legs anymore.  People with NSF also experience breathing difficulties and pain that seems to come from deep within their bones.  If you have some or all of these symptoms after having an MRI or MRA done, it may be possible you’ve contracted NSF.  Even if you don’t think you have kidney problems, it’s important that you don’t ignore these symptoms.

Do I need a Gadolinium Lawyer?  Should I file a Gadolinium lawsuit?

The decision to file a lawsuit is not one to be made lightly.  It’s a decision you should make only after consulting with a Gadolinium attorney that you trust.  If you contact me and tell me about what happened to you, I will try and put you in touch with a lawyer experienced with Gadolinium lawsuits.  I can’t promise that he or she will be able to win your case.  But I can promise that he or she will listen to your story, will try and help you find medical treatment, and will treat you with dignity and respect.  Most importantly, the attorneys I know aren’t paying me for leads.  I don’t get paid anything for introducing injured people to the Gadolinium attorneys that I know.  Instead, if I help you find a lawyer, I simply ask that you write your elected representatives and let them know you oppose FDA preemption because it prevents injured people like you from suing the manufacturer of a defective drug. 

I’d also like to remind you that I’m a law student, and not an attorney.  So if you email me, you’re not creating an attorney-client relationship.  Nor will you receive legal advice from me.  All I can do for you is listen to your story and introduce you to an attorney I think might be able to help you file and win a Gadolinium lawsuit. 

Why do they use Gadolinium if it causes NSF?

In patients with normally-functioning kidneys, there is very little risk of contracting NSF from a Gadolinium dye.  Only those patients with weakened kidneys seem to be at risk.  And not everyone with kidney problems who is injected with Gadolinium will contract NSF.  That’s why the FDA still allows Gadolinium to be used on some patients with kidney problems.