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The miracles of modern science help physicians diagnose and treat ailments at which doctors in the past could only guess. Sometimes, modern medical technology results in unintended medical consequences that can lead to debilitating conditions, even death. Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is one such miracle.
Although MRI can detect the tiniest hemorrhage of the brain, the primary contrast ingredient, gadolinium, has been linked to a serious, often fatal disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis or NSF. Manufacturers of gadolinium-based contrast agents and the doctors who prescribe it may be found liable for damages under product liability or medical malpractice law should injury or death occur.
What is Gadolinium?
Gadolinium is a chemical element with atomic number 64 on the periodic table. It is used primarily for its magnetocaloric effect where its temperature increases when in a magnetic field and decreases when it leaves a magnetic field. Changes are then measured by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
Gadolinium is the primary ingredient in gadopentetic acid, and other contrast agents that are used during an MRI, which helps detect a variety of conditions with the brain, including:
- Intracranial lesions
- Other abnormalities
Some of the common names for these contrast agents include:
Linked to NSF in 2006, gadolinium is considered to be a causal factor of this debilitating and often deadly syndrome in patients with kidney failure.
Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
NSF involves the fibrosis, or excessive connective tissue development of skin, joints, eyes, and internal organs. The condition was formerly known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy or NFD because it was thought only to be a hardening of skin.
NSF only occurs in patients with a history of kidney failure and is attributed to contrast agent containing gadolinium. Since the link was discovered, only those patients with adequate renal output are considered good candidates for this type of contrast.
Some of the signs and symptoms of NSF you should look for include:
- Hardened or tightened skin
- Dark patches of skin
- Burning or itching
- Stiff joints
- Muscle weakness
At present, there is no consistently effective treatment of NSF. Unless renal output significantly improves, due to medical therapy or kidney transplant, a number of treatment options may be tried to see which improves the condition best. Regardless, the costs of treating this disease will be added to any other medical treatments you are currently undergoing, adding to already strained finances.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with NSF/NDF following an MRI treatment, please contact Columbus, Ohio drug litigation attorney Robert W. Kerpsack, Co., L.P.A., for a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options.