Gadolinium Contrast in MRI

What is gadolinium contrast?

Gadolinium contrast is commonly referred as “dye” and is injected during MRI scans in order to better detect disease. Over the last 30 years, gadolinium contrast injections have been used in millions of patients worldwide to improve their MRI scans. Gadolinium provides a huge benefit to patients by allowing a variety of diseases to be more easily diagnosed. Often times, the use of gadolinium during an MRI scan may be the only way to diagnose a disease, allowing doctors to treat and cure this disease.

Is gadolinium contrast safe?

Gadolinium contrast is extremely safe. However, some patients with severe kidney disease or gadolinium allergy should consult with their doctor before using gadolinium contrast.

More recently, it has been shown that MRI scans may detect tiny amounts of gadolinium in the brains of patients who have received many doses of gadolinium. This can even occur in the brains of healthy patients who do not have kidney disease. Small amounts of gadolinium have also been found in other body parts. The Food and Drug Administration has been investigating this since 2015. To date, no known patient symptoms or diseases have been caused by gadolinium deposition in the brain. There continues to be research in this area to better understand this phenomenon and its possible consequences.

Is it in my best interest to receive an MRI with gadolinium contrast if recommended by my doctor?

Physicians and patients need to weigh the benefit of MRI examinations with gadolinium contrast against the possible consequences of a small amount of gadolinium depositing in the brain. Any patients with concern about receiving gadolinium contrast should freely discuss these issues with their radiology doctor prior to their MRI. The radiology community is actively investigating this issue as well. Guidelines for the use of gadolinium may be updated as more information becomes available.

For additional detailed information on this topic, please see the joint ACR/ASNR statement on gadolinium deposition in the brain.