Contrast media (contrast agents or dye) are chemical substances used in medical X-ray, MRI, CT, angiography, and occasionally ultrasound imaging. While MRI contrast of Gadolinium (Gd) was thought safer than CT contrast for many years and still maybe safer, new developments in 2016 are proving Gd is not as safe as initially believed; particularly after repeated use of Gd.
While MRI contrast Gadolinium (Gd) was thought safer than CT contrast and still may be safer, new developments in 2016 are proving Gd is not as safe as initially believed; particularly after repeated use of Gd. This is an issue for individuals who require one or more medical scan yearly including people with Neurofibromatosis (NF); NF1, NF2 and Schwannomatosis (SWN/NF3).
Gadolinium (GD), MRI contrast agents, are a group of contrast compounds used to improve the visibility of internal body structures for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The most commonly used compounds for contrast enhancement include a selection of different Gadolinium compounds.
During an MRI/MRA test to enhance what the scans show an injection of a Gadolinium-based agent is necessary. There are known possible side effects of these agents that could range from mild discomfort during and for a few hours after the injection.
Repeated injections over time can result in kidney problems including possible Renal Failure (Kidney Failure).
Gadolinium has been found to be retained in bone, skin and organs skin, but it also crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) where it accumulates in highly sensitive brain tissue. Gadolinium is also toxic to the liver, brain, white blood cells, and damages DNA.
In 2016, researchers confirmed a new contrast agent of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles/Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles (MIONs) and recently emerged extremely small MIONs (ES-MIONs) could potentially replace the Gadolinium-based agents for MRI/MRA contrasts. Recently related information on trials with Iron Oxide Nanoparticles in animals including; rabbits, dogs, and macaque monkeys have so far proven it is as safer than Gadolinium.
ES-MIONs has also shown significant advantages to show things in scans not possible with Gd, including, distinguish differences from; air, hemorrhage (Strokes), calcification, metal deposition, and blood clots, some of which required CT Scans with ionizing radiation, a scan type that alone could result in tumor growth.
Nanoparticle options are currentlly in research and not yet available.
MRI's can also be done with no contrast, however, scans without contrast lack clarity. Methods of reviewing MRI's in additional ways is also in development, but due to detailed method of reviewing scans is complex and may be unrealistic.
Many with Neurofibromatosis (NF) require a minimum of one (1) but up to five (5) MRI tests yearly and are at high risk of side effects of damage from Gd contrasts inability to completely leave the body over time. Hope with ES-MION is it will pass the body completely shortly after a scan is done unlike Gd. Individuals in need of an MRI to monitor tumor changes should talk to their doctor about options as MRI delays necessary tumor treatments. More research is needed.