It may be possible for patients with renal insufficiency, including those with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), to undergo MRI using potentially safer preparations of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) with “very low, if any” risk of the feared nephrogenic systemic sclerosis (NSF). 1
In contrast to the so called “linear” chelates of gadolinium (eg, gadodiamide, gadopentetate), “cyclic” GBCA’s (eg, gadoteridol) have not been clearly associated with NSF. 2 A Veterans Administration study involving gadoteridol identified no cases of NSF among the 141 patients on hemodialysis following 198 exposures. 2 In fact, the 2017 American College of Radiology (ACR) Manual on Contrast Media reports the risk of NSF with cyclic chelates as “very low, if any”. 1 Even when a cyclic GBCA is used in patients with ESKD, however, hemodialysis is recommended as soon as possible after MRI. 3
GBCAs are chelates with 2 major components: gadolinium and either a linear or cyclic ligand. Cyclic ligands bind to gadolinium more avidly, resulting in lower probability of circulating renally-cleared free gadolinium which when deposited in tissue is thought to potentially trigger NSF.2
Although NSF is characterized by progressive fibrosis of skin and soft tissue, it may involve multiple organs with an estimated 30% mortality rate. 4
Bonus Pearl: Did you know NSF is really a new disease, with no evidence of its existence before 1997?
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- “Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis”. In ACR Manual on Contrast Media; Version 10.3; May 31, 2017. https://www.acr.org/-/media/ACR/Files/Clinical-Resources/Contrast_Media.pdf
- Reilly RF. Risk for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis with gadoteridol (ProHance) in patients who are on long-term hemodialysis. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008;3:747-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18287249
- Wang Y, Alkasab TK, Nari O, et al. Incidence of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis after adoption of restrictive gadolinium-based contrast agent guidelines. Radiology 2011;260:105-111. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21586680
- Schlaudecker JD, Bernheisel CR. Gadolinium-associated nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Am Fam Physician 2009;80:711-14. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/1001/p711.pdf
Contributed by Richard Newcomb, MD, Mass General Hospital, Boston, MA.