According to a report from Health Imaging, MRI contrast agents may remain in your body for a long time. Doctors use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to look closely at patients’ brains, spines, and other internal organs. When a patient has an MRI, they are sometimes injected with a contrast agent that causes abnormalities in their body tissues to be highlighted in the MRI images. In America, there are six FDA- approved types of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) in use: Gadavist, OptiMARK, Magnevist, Omniscan, MultiHance, and ProHance.
In 2006, the FDA acknowledged that certain gadolinium-based contrast agents might pose a health risk to patients with pre-existing kidney failure. Some patients with pre-existing kidney failure who were given one of those contrast agents before an MRI developed a rare but potentially fatal disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). NSF causes thickening of the organs, skin, and tissues. People who are affected by NSF can experience limited mobility. Some even become confined to wheelchairs. Severe cases of NSF have resulted in death.
Last year, the FDA went a step further and required more testing of the contrast agents as well as warnings to be issued to patients before receiving injections of the contrast agents. However, Europe’s FDA-equivalent, the EMA, has recommended suspending the use of three of the six contrast agents named above (Magnevist, Omniscan, and OptiMARK). Those contrast agents are linear GBCA’s, a subset of gadolinium-based contrast agents that operate differently in the body than the other contrast agents, which are macrocyclic GBCAs. A recent study in Germany confirms that linear GBCAs cause much more gadolinium to be retained by the body than macrocyclic GBCAs. In the study, rats injected with a linear GBCA retained seventy-five percent of the gadolinium in their brains a year after the injection, and rats that were injected with a macrocyclic GBCA retained only trace amounts of gadolinium.
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