MRI Gadolinium Contrast Agent and the Brain: Full FDA Approval

To improve the quality of diagnostic images, MRI technicians frequently use gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAss). Gadolinium is a paramagnetic material, so it can allow an MRI scanner to capture better images (we go into that process a little further in this blog).

Recently, the FDA announced the results of a review of several gadolinium-based agents, confirming that the products are completely safe.

The report acknowledges that patients retain small amounts of gadolinium in their brains and other tissues, with patients showing signs of retention several years after their MRI scans. However, the FDA said that there’s no evidence that this retained gadolinium is harmful — even when it’s retained in the brain.

It’s good news for MRI techs, as GBCAs can make scans much more accurate. Some scientists were concerned about administering GBCAs on a regular basis, and the FDA even advised physicians to avoid GBCAs unless absolutely necessary.

The review should ease patient fears about gadolinium, although the FDA’s report consciously notes that “Other research is also being conducted about how gadolinium is retained in the body.”

“FDA will update the public when new information becomes available and we plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future,” the document states.

The administration studied scientific publications and adverse event reports concerning these contrast agents:

Ablavar (gadofosveset trisodium)
Dotarem (gadoterate meglumine)
Eovist (gadoxetate disodium)
Gadavist (gadobutrol)
Magnevist (gadopentetate dimeglumine)
MultiHance (gadobenate dimeglumine)
Omniscan (gadodiamide)
OptiMARK (gadoversetamide)
ProHance (gadoteridol)

“All GBCAs may be associated with some gadolinium retention in the brain and other body tissues,” the report reads. “However, because FDA identified no evidence to date that gadolinium retention in the brain […] is harmful, restricting GBCA use is not warranted at this time.”

Does Gadolinium Pose Any Other Risks?

Some patients are allergic to gadolinium-based contrast agents, although severe reactions are extremely rare, occurring in a mere 0.03 to 0.1 percent of cases.

Otherwise, gadolinium agents don’t seem to pose any unusual threats, and this new FDA report certainly backs up that assertion. The drugs are typically injected intravenously, and they’re carefully formulated to prevent toxicity from the gadolinium. Different brands of GBCAs use different agents to limit toxicity, but all of the products are considered safe.

Can I Get An MRI Without a Gadolinium Contrast Agent?

If you’re still worried about getting an MRI with a gadolinium-based contrast agent, talk to your physician and your MRI team. They’ll be able to determine whether a GBCA is absolutely necessary in your case.

It’s helpful to note that contrast agents aren’t the only determining factor for image quality. The skill of your technicians and the quality of their MRI equipment also plays a role. At BestPriceMRI, we carefully assess the capabilities of each facility in our network, ensuring that patients get high-quality, diagnostically relevant images in an efficient and comfortable manner.

We’re also dedicated to helping patients save money by evaluating several options before scheduling their appointments, which helps to limit the cost of MRIs and other tests. To get started or for more information, call at 888-322-7785.

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