Contrast Agent Builds Up in Brain, FDA Warns
Written by Editor   
Thursday, July 30, 2015 10:16 AM

Gadolinium-enhancing contrast agents used in MRI imaging may build up in the brain after repeated scans (4 or more).  It is unknown if this poses adverse health effects.

Observations:  Iodine and other radioisotope contrasting agents are not included in the FDA’s warning.

Potential actions:

  • Be aware that the use of gadolinium-enhancing contrast agents may accumulate in the brain and body.

 

The FDA is warning that gadolinium-enhancing contrast agents used in MRI imaging may build up in the brain after repeated scans.

It is unknown whether these gadolinium deposits are harmful or can lead to adverse health effects.  The investigation follows recent reports that deposits of gadolinium-based contrast agents remain in the brains of some patients who have four or more contrast MRI scans, long after their last dose.

The FDA said physicians should consider limiting the use of these agents to "clinical circumstances in which the additional information provided by the contrast is necessary," also urging them to reassess the necessity of repetitive contrast MRIs in established treatment protocols.

The warning doesn't affect contrast-enhancing agents, such as those that use iodine or other radioisotopes.

After being administered, GBCAs are mostly eliminated from the body through the kidneys. However, trace amounts of gadolinium may stay in the body long-term. Recent studies conducted in people and animals have confirmed that gadolinium can remain in the brain, even in individuals with normal kidney function.

To reduce the potential for gadolinium accumulation, health care professionals should consider limiting GBCA use to clinical circumstances in which the additional information provided by the contrast is necessary. Health care professionals are also urged to reassess the necessity of repetitive GBCA MRIs in established treatment protocols.