allergic reaction gadolinium
When undergoing an MRI scan, your doctor may use a gadolinium contrast dye to improve the quality of the results. Generally, the contrast dye is safe to use, which will pass through and exit the body naturally with time. However, there may be side effects which can possibly have severe and fatal outcomes under some circumstances.
Some minor gadolinium side effects include headaches, nausea, light headedness, and a decrease in blood pressure. These should not be a cause for concern. The sudden onsets of these symptoms are most likely just a result of increased anxiety of having the scan or being injected with the contrast dye. They should go away shortly after the scan. Be sure to take it easy if you are feeling uncomfortable and uneasy after your scan.
Other known side effects are a result of an allergic reaction to gadolinium. Complications are usually mild, such as sweating, skin rashes, itching and hives. Potentially fatal complications include irritation of the blood vessels and blood clots.
When people think of severe gadolinium side effects, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is what comes to mind. NSF is a fatal syndrome that results in the fibrosis of soft and connective tissue. This includes the joints, skin and internal organs. The most noticeable effect is that the skin will tighten and harden and the joints will stiffen up, making it harder and more painful to stretch and move parts of the body. It is much easier to develop in patients with a history of renal (kidney) disease and failure.
Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is a relatively new disease. The first case was reported in 1997, with the first study being published almost 3 years later. It was not until 2006 that gadolinium based contrast agents were linked to nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Not much is known about how exactly this syndrome emerges, and there is no known treatment option as of today.
It is imperative that patients make it known to their doctors and nurses about their history of kidney complications if there were any. If there is only evidence of slight kidney impairment, contrast dyes may still be used if deemed essential, but it is very important that the proposed guidelines for use are strictly adhered to. It is highly recommended that all patients undergoing their first MRI scan be screened for kidney disease beforehand to avoid all fatal gadolinium side effects.