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Amid continuing concerns about the potential side effects from gadolinium deposition, researchers from the University of Buffalo indicate that deposits of the toxic metal were commonly seen in brain scans of patients with multiple sclerosis who frequently received injections with the Omniscan contrast during MRI exam.
In a study published earlier this month in the medical journal Neurology, researchers indicate that data supports the growing body of evidence that that gadolinium used in MRI contrast dye may build up in the brain and body over time.
Gadolinium is a highly toxic metal contained in MRI contrast dyes, which is designed to help enhance images. However, the gadolinium is put through a chelation process, which is supposed to prevent the metal from being absorbed into the body, allowing it to pass safely with other waste products. However, in recent years several studies have found that certain types of contrast agents may leave deposits of gadolinium that build up in the body, resulting in a condition that is now increasingly referred to as gadolinium deposition disease.
In this latest study, researchers conducted a retrospective evaluation involving 203 patients with MS and 262 age- and sex-matched controls. Mean follow-up time was 55.4 months, and the mean number of Omniscan injections was 9.2 for those who received them.
According to the findings, 49.3% of MS patients who received injections had spots of signal intensity in their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which is a sign of gadolinium build up. None of the control subjects had signs of signal intensity in their scans.
Researchers concluded that Omniscan use in the early stages of MS is linked to a lifetime accumulation of gadolinium in the brain.
Gadolinium Injury Lawsuits
In December 2017, the FDA issued a drug safety communication for certain types of contrast agents, providing new information about the risk of gadolinium retention and potential side effects. As a result, manufacturers were required to provide new warnings and information in a Medication Guide, which all patients receiving an MRI contrast dye will be asked to read.
The FDA also recommended that health care professionals consider the fact that the body retains gadolinium when deciding whether to give it to patients that may be at higher risk of health problems. These include women who are pregnant or think they may be pregnant, patients with kidney problems, children, and patients when inflammatory conditions. The recommendations also suggest that repeated use of the contrast agents be minimized where possible, particularly when MRIs are scheduled closely together.
Patients are now urged to tell their health care professionals whether they are pregnant or may be pregnant, whether they have kidney problems, and the date of their last MRI with gadolinium, or whether they have had repeated MRI scans that involved the use of gadolinium contrast agents.
Manufacturers face a growing number of gadolinium deposition lawsuits filed in courts nationwide, and the size of the litigation is expected to continue to increase over the coming months and years.