Is MRI contrast a dangerous threat?

In early November, Chuck Norris filed a lawsuit against medical device manufacturers involving gadolinium-based contrast media, a chemical used in MRI imaging scans. The lawsuit stated that the gadolinium that doctors injected into his wife Gena to improve the clarity of her MRIs have left her “weak and tired and with debilitating bouts of pain and a burning sensation.”

As with any adverse effects involving medical procedures in the news, it is very understandable for a patient to become anxious whether they have already had the procedure or they are scheduled to have one.

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCA) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) use in 1998 to improve visibility of internal structures, gadolinium has been used in more than 300 million patients for diagnosis and treatment guidance. These contrast agents are composed of an organic component that tightly binds to and improves the stability and safety of the central gadolinium-heavy metal ion that is then eliminated from the body by the kidneys.

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