Gadolinium deposition disease occurs when the heavy metal gadolinium (Gd) is retained in the body following magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Gadolinium deposition disease can affect anyone -- men or women, old or young -- who has been exposed to this element through contact with a gadolinium-based contrast agent (GDCA). This page contains an overview of gadolinium deposition disease including GDD symptoms, causes, and information on gadolinium deposition disease lawsuits.
Gadolinium is the active element in many contrast agents used to enhance the viewing of internal organs and tissues during MRI imaging. Well known for its toxicity to humans, gadolinium was approved for MRI contrast agents because manufacturers assured the FDA the metal would be excreted from the body by the kidneys. To promote rapid expulsion of the dangerous metal, gadolinium is bonded to another substance known as a chelate, which limits the chance it will be retained by the body. Researchers have discovered that even in persons with normal kidney functioning, gadolinium may stay in the body. Gadolinium deposits have been found in the brain and bones, resulting in gadolinium deposition disease.
Gadolinium has been approved for use in MRI contrast dyes since 1988. According to the American Society of Neuro Radiology and the American College of Radiology, more than 30 million patients undergo MRI imaging in the U.S. each year.
Where researchers once believed the heavy metal was released by the kidneys, recent evidence has shown it can be retained throughout the body such as in the skin, joints, connective tissues, and brain. Gadolinium Deposition Disorder is the resulting illness, which has only been identified as such since it was first named in published research by Dr. Semelka in 2016. That same year, gadolinium deposits were detected in patients with normal renal function, indicating the substance is not as safe as drug manufacturers promised.
Gadolinium Deposition Disease occurs when deposits of gadolinium build up in brain and bone tissues. Symptoms of gadolinium deposition disease include searing skin and subcutaneous pain, chronic bone pain, and â€œchemo brainâ€ or cognitive decline. Exposure to gadolinium can also harm the kidneys and impact renal function. In extreme cases, patients exposed to gadolinium may develop nephrogenic system fibrosis (NSF), which is characterized by a life-threatening thickening of the skin and fibrosis of muscle, fascia, lungs and heart. NSF cases have been reported in connection to the top five FDA approved agents: MagneVist, MultiHance, Omniscan, OptiMARK, and ProHance. More research is underway to understand how often NSF results from gadolinium deposition disease.
More than 30 million Americans undergo MRI each year. The active element in MRI contrast dyes, gadolinium is widely known for its toxicity to humans. To limit the degree to which gadolinium is retained in the body, gadolinium is bonded with a chelate, or carrier substance, in various manners. Research has shown that gadolinium-based contrast agents known as linear agents put patients most at risk for gadolinium deposition disease, after as few as four MRI procedures. When gadolinium is retained in the body, patients may suffer chronic and side effects and irreversible damage.
Research on the side effects of gadolinium exposure through MRI has been underway since the mid 1980s, but it was only in 2016 that the term Gadolinium Deposition Disease was first used to refer to side effects of gadolinium retained in the body.
The first FDA gadolinium side effects warning was issued in July of 2015, when regulators announced they were launching an investigation. A May of 2017 FDA gadolinium warning was issued, confirming the risk of gadolinium retention but stating no adverse effects had been connected to gadolinium contrast agent exposure. And in December of 2017, following a panel on gadolinium deposition disease in September and just after Chuck Norris' wife filed gadolinium deposition disease lawsuit, a third FDA gadolinium warning was issued. Linear GBCAs, such as Omniscan, OptiMARK, and Magnevist, were singled out as putting patients at risk for gadolinium deposition, but these products are still in wide use in the U.S.. In comparison, Japan and the European Union have taken steps to protect their citizens by restricting the production of the most dangerous contrast agents.
The gadolinium deposition disease lawsuit filed by Chuck Norris' wife Gena served to bring to risks of gadolinium retention into the light. Alleging that she suffers symptoms of gadolinium deposition disorder following several MRIs, Chuck Norris' wife is seeking compensation of more than $10 million from three manufacturers of gadolinium-based contrast agents. Chuck Norris' wife's symptoms include a burning pain throughout the body, violent shaking, numbness, tingling, weakness, cognitive deficits, kidney damage, and difficulty breathing. The gadolinium contrast side effects lawsuit asserts that manufacturers had a responsibility to warn the public long ago.
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