A rare disease has been linked to gadolinium based contrast agents used to enhance MRI images. Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is a debilitating disease characterized by widespread tissue fibrosis. While it has not been definitively proven that gadolinium agents cause NSF it is estimated that 90-95 percent of NSF cases have received gadolinium agents within a couple of months prior to developing the affliction.
Gadolinium agents seem to only cause NSF in patients with renal failure. No cases have been reported of persons with normal kidney function. The FDA has cautioned that the use of these agents with even slight to moderate kidney problems could result in the development of NSF. Some doctors believe that this approach by the FDA will exclude a large group of people from getting the best test out there in many situations.
Studies investigating the relationship between NSF and gadolinium are currently underway at Yale, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the medical regulatory agencies of the European Union.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.