Potential Safety Issues Related to the Use of Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents

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Abstract

Purpose of Review: This article reviews recent research on gadolinium deposit formation in the brain linked to contrast-enhanced MRI studies.

Recent Findings: Human and animal studies have confirmed the presence of gadolinium in the brain following the serial administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents. This is a relatively new and growing field of research primarily driven by concerns regarding unknown and potentially harmful side effects of gadolinium-based contrast agents. Retrospective observational in vivo studies in humans demonstrated T1 shortening effects in the brain parenchyma resulting from gadolinium exposure. These studies were followed by postmortem human and animal studies. Evidence exists that gadolinium may cause deposits in the brain and that this may occur independently of impaired renal function and in the presence of an intact blood-brain barrier. Gadolinium deposition has been linked primarily with the use of linear, rather than macrocyclic, gadolinium-based contrast agents.

Summary: The formation of gadolinium deposits and its implications have been the focus of only a small number of research groups. The currently available data must be verified, and the potential factors that may be linked to this phenomenon and the clinical significance must be explored. Depending on future findings, changes in the clinical application of gadolinium-based contrast agents may be expected.

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