Gadolinium, an element used in a range of applications, is the primary active ingredient in contrasting fluids used with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. While the Food and Drug Administration approved use of gadolinium-based injections for MRIs in 1988, in 2006, published studies indicated that gadolinium was causing serious side effects, especially in patients already experiencing kidney failure.

Among the most serious gadolinium side effects is the incurable, debilitating condition known as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). NSF may also be referred to as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD).

What is NSF?

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is an extremely rare type of condition marked by hardening of the skin and certain areas of the body. Individuals with NSF may develop scar tissue (medically referred to as fibrosis) on or in their:

  • cartilage
  • joints
  • muscles
  • nerves
  • skin
  • internal organs

As areas of fibrosis grow and spread, they severely limit mobility, complicating patients’ abilities to extend or contract various parts of their bodies. If the fibrosis reaches internal organs, it could eventually result in death.

NSF Symptoms

Symptoms of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis usually include:

  • burning and/or itchy sensations
  • hardened skin
  • impaired mobility
  • inflammation, especially of the hands or feet
  • pain
  • red, dark or patchy areas of skin
  • symmetrical lesions, especially on the ankles, thighs, wrists and/or upper arms
  • tightness of the skin
  • yellowish eye plaque buildup

NSF Treatments

Sadly, no cure exists for NSF. Instead, NSF treatments involve minimizing the side effects and progression of the disease.

Because no single course of treatment can effectively manage NSF, doctors will use some combination of the following treatment options (depending on an individual patient’s responsiveness):

  • antibiotics
  • blood therapies (such as photopheresis or plasmapheresis)
  • dialysis
  • hormone therapies
  • medications
  • physical therapy
  • topical skin treatments

As with many medical conditions, the earlier NSF is diagnosed and treated, the more likely it is to be responsive to the above treatments.

Diagnosed with NSF?

Gadolinium use in MRI is currently one of the only known causes of NSF. If you were injected with a gadolinium-based MRI dye and subsequently developed NSF, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Published November 17, 2011 by