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Potential Dangers of Gadolinium Contrast Agents

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Gadolinium is a rare-earth metal with a silvery metallic luster. Gadolinium has been used for many years in various applications throughout the world. Gadolinium is used in the production compact disks, television tubes, and computer memory, but gadolinium has recently been in the news for its use as a contrast agent in MRA and MRI dyes. Gadolinium-containing contrast agents effectively enhance the images produced by magnetic resonance imaging in most cases where the agents are used; however, some patients suffering from kidney failure have developed an extremely debilitating condition know as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis or NSF.

Gadolinium contrast agents are manufactured by a process known as chelating. Chelating is a procedure in which a stable complex is formed around the gadolinium to protect recipients from exposure to free gadolinium. In patients with normal kidney function this stable complex is eliminated by the kidneys, but in patients suffering form renal failure the complex is not removed. In many cases this has resulted in the development of the extremely painful and potentially life-threatening condition known as NSF.

Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis or NSF causes fibrosis of the skin and connective tissue and in some advanced cases may spread to internal organs of the body. Patients suffering from NSF experience a thickening of the skin which can drastically reduce mobility and the bending and extending of joints.

There is no consistently effective treatment for NSF. Improving kidney function has been shown to slow the progression of disease in some cases and may offer some relief from some the extremely painful symptoms associated with NSF.

Source by Scott Kappes

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