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J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2017 Sep;47(3):243-246. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2017.306.

Is it safe to use gadolinium-based contrast agents in MRI?

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R Pullicino, Neuroradiology Department, The Walton Centre NHS, Foundation Trust, Lower Lane, Liverpool L9 7LJ, UK. Email:


Gadolinium-based contrast agents have greatly expanded the capability of magnetic resonance imaging and have been used extensively in neuroradiology over the past 30 years. When initially developed they were thought to be relatively harmless; it was later discovered they are associated with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and should be used with caution in certain patient groups, especially those with renal failure. Lately it has been found that the use of these contrast agents may result in deposition of gadolinium in the brain even in patients with an intact blood-brain barrier. While this has not been shown to be associated with any clinical effects, a precautionary approach has been advised by the regulatory authorities. Here we review the development of the gadolinium contrast agents, their use and the advice related to this new information.


blood-brain barrier; contrast media; magnetic resonance imaging; tissue


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