Also referred to as MRI contrast agents, MRI contrast dyes are substances that make the body’s tissues and internal organs more visible in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. MRI tests are common diagnostic procedures that help doctors identify various conditions, including multiple sclerosis, malignancies, stroke and spinal conditions.
MRI contrast agents can be injected in the blood vessels, taken orally, or inserted rectally. Although a variety of compounds may be used as MRI contrast dyes, the most commonly used agents are gadolinium based. Other bases for MRI contrast agents include iron oxide, manganese and perflubron. Brand names of popularly used MRI dyes include:
- Magnevist, by Bayer Schering Pharma
- Multihance, by Bracco
- Omniscan, by GE Healthcare
- OptiMARK, by GE Healthcare
- ProHance, by Bracco
- Vasovist, EPIX Pharmaceuticals
Side Effects of MRI Contrast Agents
Despite being effective at elucidating the results of MRIs, contrast dyes have been reported to contribute to the development of a rare but serious side effect in patients with severe kidney (renal) disorders. Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), also known as Nephrogenic Firbrosing Dermopathy (NFD), is a life-threatening condition that causes fibrosis of the eyes, internal organs, skin and joints. Fibrosis is a condition marked by the buildup of collagen in the affected area.
Although researchers are currently investigating the precise causes of NSF, use of certain MRI contrast agents in high-risk patients has been identified as a likely cause.
Symptoms of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
As NSF progresses, patients will begin to develop the following symptoms:
- Exaggerated physical responses to cold temperatures and/or emotional distress
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammation of the hands
- Oval-shaped patches on the skin that have purple borders
- Pain or color changes in the fingers or toes
- Restricted movement in the affected area
- Skin thickening
- Tightening of the skin on the hands, mouth and/or face
Should MRI patients start to experience any combination of the above symptoms, it’s vital that they seek emergency medical attention to prevent potentially fatal complications. Currently, there is no cure for NSF. As a result, treatments focus on:
- Halting the progression of the disease
- Trying to reverse disease progression
- Promoting the best possible quality of life
NSF treatments may include:
- Reduced EPO dosage (to increase red blood cells and combat anemia)
- Oral steroids (to reduce inflammation)
- Photopheresis and plasmapheresis (blood therapies)
- Physical therapy
- Topical creams (to treat the skin)
- Various medications
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with NSF after being exposed to an MRI contrast agent? If so, contact us to speak with an experienced defective drug attorney who will evaluate your case and help you recover the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.