Side effects of Contrast MRI-Hidden Side Effects of Gadolinium Contrast

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Side effects of Contrast MRI-Hidden Side Effects of Gadolinium Contrast

Have you ever gone for an MRI scan in the past? You will note that most people usually go for this scanning from time to time. Your doctor might refer you to visit a radiologist in order to get the finer details of your ailment. You will realize that some diseases require you to be scanned in order to get treated more effectively. If you have a fracture in your leg or hand, your doctor might advise you that you go for an MRI scan so as to show the extent of the damage. Cancer patients also for MRI scanning so as to tell how far the cancer cells have spread. This has made MRI scanning more essential to different patients out there.

There are two types of MRI scans. These are MRI with contrast and MRI without contrast. In this article, we shall closely look at an MRI with contrast and the side effects of gadolinium-based contrast agents. First and foremost, you will note that MRI is better than other imaging processes such as CT scans and x-rays as it usually involves the use of a gadolinium-based contrast agent, which is essentially the MRI dye. The primary role of this dye is to help the radiologist to have better clarity and decipherability to your MRI image. Gadolinium is basically a paramagnetic metal ion that is used in contrast MRIs because it normally travels within magnetic fields.30% of MRI scans usually rely on it when taking images. If you are going to have an MRI with contrast, a radiologist will inject this dye into a vein in either of your hands or arm. He will use an IV or a small butterfly needle to inject this dye into your vein. In most cases, 10-20 milliliters of dye is normally injected into your vein. The injection usually takes 10-30 seconds. This helps to improve the accuracy of the test results. However, did you know that this dye has some hidden side effects? The following are some side effects of gadolinium contrast:

Injection site pain

It is normal to experience some pain on the spot where you were injected. If the doctor or the radiologist injects this dye on your arm or leg, you might experience some pain on that spot. This might seem strange, but it occurs to many people who have undergone this scanning.


Some patients usually experience nausea and even vomiting after being injected with this dye. This might make you dislike your favorite food, and so on. At some point, you might not eat anything at all. Some even start vomiting. The good news is that this effect does not last for long. You can trust that you will be fine after a few days.


Some people are usually allergic to dye and might develop rashes on their skin. This is the reason why you need to tell your doctor if you are allergic to such agents so that he can act accordingly. Failure to inform your doctor before scanning can make you develop rashes in the long run. Others, usually develop abnormal skin sensations such as burning or tingling. This is commonly known as paresthesia. Your skin might be itchy for quite some time. However, this effect does not last for long.

Difficulty breathing.

You will note that some people usually experience this problem after they’re injected with this dye. Difficulty breathing is one of those severe effects that occur out there. Other effects include swelling of the lips and mouth. This usually occurs in 1 out of 10000 people who have this contrast. If you develop any of these complications, you should seek immediate medical attention. You can trust that you will be able to respond well after seeking standard emergency drug treatment. Here, medications will be given to you through a tube that is normally placed in your arm before or during the MRI scan. You do not have to worry about these reactions as most radiology facilities usually have enough stock of medications to treat these reactions.

Your baby might take this dye when you are breastfeeding.

Pregnant women usually go for an MRI scan from time to time. They might have issues that need to be scanned in order to get diagnosed. If you are pregnant or lactating, you should tell your radiologist so that he can know the ideal MRI scan that he should use on you. You will note that gadolinium injection is not safe for your unborn baby. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you might not be injected with this contrast. If you are injected with this contrast when you are breastfeeding, your child might take this contrast indirectly. This is because this contrast can enter the breast milk and eventually end in your baby’s bloodstream.

Drowsiness and confusion.

Some patients have ever experienced this problem after gadolinium injection. Others experienced mood changes and even confusion after this injection. Sometimes, you might feel too thirsty when you are in the MRI room. If you have any of these side effects, you should inform your doctor as soon as possible. Some patients usually get convulsions, and so on. These are severe side effects and can be detrimental to your body. The good news is that some medications that can help alleviate the situation.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.

This is a rare disease that results in skin contractures and internal organ damage. Some patients have developed this problem at one time or another. It is ordinarily prevalent among those patients who have ever had kidney issues in the past. If you have ever had any kidney abnormality, you should inform your radiologist before he or she injects you with this gadolinium contrast. Informing your doctor about your kidney status before the scan can help prevent any possible risk in your case.

It is essential that you know these side effects so that you can avoid future health problems. If you develop any of these complications, you should alert the doctor so that appropriate action can be taken. In most cases, doctors usually use a treatment known as chelation. Here, the doctor will administer chelating agents to the affected patients. The agents typically bind gadolinium and remove it through the kidneys. If you choose to undergo an MRI scan with contrast, you should be ready to experience any of these above-mentioned side effects.
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