Header graphic for print
Dangerous Drugs & Medical Devices News & Commentary on Prescription Drug & Medical Device Lawsuits

Brief Information About Gadolinium & Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF)

Posted in Misc. Drugs

Until recently, I had never heard of a metal called Gadolinium or a disease called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis. (NSF for short.)  But this summer, I spent some time working for a law firm that has been handling a number of cases of people who acquired NSF after having an MRI or an MRA done that used a Gadolinium dye.  In order to be able to effectively help our Gadolinium team, I needed to get up to speed on the subject and thought I’d share what I’ve learned:

  • Gadolinium is a special type of metal that has unique magnetic properties that make it useful as a contrast agent in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans.  Because the gadolinium reacts in a certain way to magnetic fields, doctors can more easily spot what they’re looking for if they inject an MRI or an MRA patient with a dye containing gadolinium.
    • There are five major brands of gadolinium dyes:
      • Omniscan, which is the brand name of Gadodiamide.  It’s made by GE, and they advertise it as being the leading dye.
      • Multihance, is the brand name of gadobenate dimeglumine and is made by a company called Bracco.
      • Prohance,  or gadoteridol, is also made by Bracco.
      • Magnevist, is the brand name of gadopentetate dimeglumine.  Magnevist is made by Berlex, and they advertise it as being the first MRI contrast agent ever approved. 
      • Optimark, which is the brand name for Gadoversetamide Injection.  It’s made by a company called Mallinckrodt and is the only dye approved for "power injection."
  • Some people with kidney or liver problems who have used an MRI dye have developed Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis.  The FDA knows of at least 250 confirmed cases, with many more speculated.
    • NSF is a serious disease that has the following major symptoms:
      • Skin:
        • Thickening of the skin and connective tissues. 
        • Reddening or yellowing of the skin.
        • Severe dryness of the skin.
        • Plaques or papules on the skin.
        • Some people describe the skin as looking like "alligator skin."
      • Movement:
        • Severe joint pain, generally starting in the feet and legs, then moving up.
        • Inability to move joints.
      • Pain:
        • Deep pain in the joints, abdomen, or hips.
    • The first cases of NSF was discovered in 1997, and recognized by the medical community in 2000.  At this time, the only known individuals to contract NSF are those with kidney or liver problems.