By Dr. Mercola. Condensed by APRA.
Gadolinium: The MRI Agent Linked to Brain Abnormalities.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the better choices if you need a diagnostic imaging procedure performed. Unlike CT scans or X-rays, an MRI does not use ionizing radiation that may cause DNA damage or cancer. But there are risks involved when contrast agents are used, including potential brain abnormalities revealed by a new study, so it’s important to use extreme caution and only get an enhanced MRI if it is absolutely necessary.
Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents Linked to Brain Hypersensitivity
Gadolinium is a paramagnetic metal ion that moves differently within a magnetic field. Because the gadolinium ion is known to be toxic, it is chemically bonded with non-metal ions when used during MRIs to allow it to be eliminated from your body before it is released in your tissues.
For the first time, a new study has shown that the gadolinium may not be immediately eliminated and may instead persist in your body.
Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents Also Linked to Life-Threatening Skin Thickening
Among patients with severe kidney disease, the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents is linked to the development of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, or NSF. NSF can be fatal.
I recommend that everyone use caution with gadolinium-based contrast agents and only use them when absolutely essential. Even if you’re healthy, these contrast agents may cause side effects like life-threatening allergic reaction, blood clots, blood vessel irritation and skin reactions, including hives, itching, and facial swelling.
Other MRI Risks You May Not Know About
The effects of exposure to MRIs’ strong magnetic field are largely unknown.
Research has shown that there are biological effects in the human body, however, including to the retina, pineal gland, and some cells in the paranasal sinuses. Time-varying magnetic fields may also interfere with your nerve cell function and muscle fibers, while MRIs also produce acoustic noise that has been known to cause temporary (and, rarely, permanent) hearing loss.
The MUST-KNOW Rule if You Are Getting an MRI
But the KEY here is to avoid using MRI scans with contrast unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. Often the use of contrast agents is optional and an acceptable MRI can be conducted without the use of a contrast. Many times, physicians will order these tests just to be complete and cover their butts from a legal perspective. If that is your case, then simply refuse to have the test done with contrast. If necessary, consult with other physicians that can provide you with a different perspective.
If You Need an MRI, It Pays to Shop Around
Hospitals may charge exorbitant fees for high-tech diagnostics, like MRIs, to subsidize other poorly reimbursed services. And, hospitals are allowed to charge Medicare and other third-party insurers a “facility fee,” leading to even more price inflation. With a few phone calls to diagnostic centers in your area, you could save up to 90 percent over what a hospital would charge for the same service.
Jan. 9, 2014.
Editor: Although the publication date of an article may not be current the information is still valid.