RSNA 2017: New research finds no evidence of harm caused by gadolinium

Discussion about the safety of using gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) in medical imaging has increased in recent years as a result of the element being found in patients’ brains following MRIs. In a new study presented Wednesday at RSNA 2017 in Chicago, however, researchers found no evidence of harm from the gadolinium being retained.

The study’s authors used data from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging to examine the impact gadolinium exposure has on a patient’s neurologic and neurocognitive functions. Data from more than 4,200 patients was analyzed, and more than 25 percent of the patients had been exposed to gadolinium-based contrast agents.

The authors found that exposure to the element was not a predictor of cognitive decline, dementia, diminished neuropsychological performance or diminished motor performance.

“Right now there is concern over the safety of gadolinium-based contrast agents, particularly relating to gadolinium retention in the brain and other tissues,” lead author Robert J. McDonald, MD, PhD, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a statement. “This study provides useful data that, at the reasonable doses 95 percent of the population is likely to receive in their lifetime, there is no evidence at this point that gadolinium retention in the brain is associated with adverse clinical outcomes.”

According to McDonald and colleagues, approximately 400 million doses of gadolinium have been administered to patients since 1988, and it is still used in 40 to 50 percent of all MRIs performed today.

More coverage of gadolinium and GBCAs can be found here and here.