Gadolinium-based contrast agents: why nephrologists need to be concerned


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewThe hegemony of gadolinium-based contrast agent-induced adverse events stretches beyond those who have renal impairment. ‘Nephrogenic’ systemic fibrosis is a misnomer: gadolinium-based contrast agents are the known trigger for the disease; kidney impairment is a risk factor. Impaired (true) glomerular filtration may be one catalyst for gadolinium-based contrast agent-induced adverse events, but it is increasingly evident that the same cluster of symptoms occurs in patients with normal renal function.Recent findingsIt has been known for nearly 30 years that gadolinium-based contrast agents distribute and are cleared according to a three compartment model. Single doses of gadolinium-based contrast agents can trigger ‘nephrogenic’ systemic fibrosis in nondialysis dependent patients. Manifestations have occurred years after exposure. Renal insufficiency alone is not an adequate explanation for ‘nephrogenic’ systemic fibrosis, and the continuum of its symptoms with the adverse events reported by patients with normal renal function clearly indicate that the physiologic reactions are largely undefined.SummaryGadolinium-based contrast agents should be used with extreme caution.

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