The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set up an investigation into the risk of brain deposits from repeated contrast-enhanced MRI scans. This follows case reports of brain deposits from gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCA’s). The risk seems to start from 4 exposures.
Gadolinium is very important in ‘lighting up‘ lesions which would otherwise be missed on plain MRI scans. There is no doubt of the importance of gadolinium to neurologists, but it is also the case that it is requested more often than is absolutely necessary. There is no conclusive evidence yet, but this report should make neurologists, and patients, think twice before proceeding with the next contrast MRI. These MRI’s are often done ‘just to be sure we’re not missing anything’. We are most probably not!
Want to explore this further?
- A review of known and proposed mechanisms from Biometals
- A press release from the Radiological Society of North America
- An update from the American Journal of Neuroradiology
- A detailed discussion of the issues on Propublica