After a Saturday morning basketball game gone wrong or some other accident, you might find yourself waiting to take an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan) on an injured joint. An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of your injured joint. Preparation for the MRI may require an injection of “dye” to improve the image. After the MRI, you may find yourself suffering from the effects of gadolinium poisoning from this “dye” in addition to your earlier injury.
Gadolinium is a chemical element used in contrast agents for MRIs that can cause simple side effects such as nausea or more severe, life-threatening symptoms like thickening and scarring of connective tissue. If you or a loved one suffered from adverse effects of gadolinium poisoning, contact our Maryland attorney for gadolinium poisoning from an MRI. The diligent attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will evaluate your medical malpractice claim and help advise you on how to proceed. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free case consultation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Gadolinium Poisoning in Maryland
A magnetic resonance imaging scan, or MRI, uses radio waves and magnets to create a detailed computer image of a patient’s internal organs and structures. Sometimes an intravenous contrast agent is injected to help enhance the image.
Gadolinium is a silvery-white colored chemical element used in most contrast agents that may cause several potential side-effects. Occasionally a patient will experience mild nausea, itching, or vomiting and, in some rare instances, a severe allergic reaction.
Gadolinium is combined with other chemicals in the contrast agent to keep it from causing harm. A patient with healthy kidneys will usually expel the agent before the chemicals break down and gadolinium is absorbed into the body. However, a patient with unhealthy kidneys may be unable to excrete the agent before the complex breaks down, releasing gadolinium into the body. Should this happen, it may lead to severe medical complications.
Gadolinium can also build up in the body over time, especially if a patient has multiple MRIs.
Effects of Gadolinium Poisoning
Gadolinium toxicity can occur within hours after injecting a contrast agent, or years later if gadolinium has built up in a patient’s system. Gadolinium can stay in the body for months or years after being administered for an MRI. Symptoms can vary from the very mild to severe, including pain in the joints, headache, vision or hearing distortions, flu-like symptoms, and difficulty breathing. A patient should notify their doctor if they are experiencing any of these systems in the days or months following an MRI.
Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NFS) is the most severe complication, causing a hardening or thickening of the skin and internal organs. It affects individuals with compromised kidney functions and is fatal in 30% of cases. Nearly all cases of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis are linked to gadolinium-based contrast agents.
Gadolinium deposition disease (GDD) is a recently defined condition. Symptomatically, it resembles nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, but it occurs in patients with normal, healthy kidneys. Additional symptoms associated with GDD include headaches, burning skin pain, cardiac arrhythmia, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, loss of balance, and hair or tooth loss.
First described in 2016, one theory links GDD to a heredity condition that impairs the body’s ability to metabolize heavy metals. While many questions surround the condition, there have been robust regulatory and industry responses coupled with a swell of litigation.
Medical Malpractice and Gadolinium Poisoning
The dangers that gadolinium poses to patients with unhealthy kidneys were outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006. When ordering an MRI, a doctor should consider the health and condition of a patient’s kidneys. Prescribing a gadolinium-based agent before confirming a patient has healthy, functioning kidneys could constitute medical malpractice.
There are two types of gadolinium-based contrast agents: linear and macrocyclic. Each agent bonds their various atoms in different compositions. Macrocyclic molecules completely surround the gadolinium ion with nitrogen. On the other hand, linear molecules fail to surround the gadolinium ion, increasing the risk of the material breaking down and causing gadolinium toxicity. Choosing the wrong type of gadolinium contrast might also constitute a medical mistake.
In addition to patients with unhealthy kidneys, other people might also have a higher risk of gadolinium toxicity, including pregnant women, children, people with inflammatory conditions, and patients who have had several MRIs. A doctor knowingly using linear agents when treating high-risk patients may be liable for any harm they may suffer.
Medical Mistakes in Testing and Treatment of Gadolinium Poisoning
Unfortunately, not every medical professional understands gadolinium poisoning. The methods used to measure gadolinium levels usually focus on urine and blood tests. These tests are not currently standardized and may not be reliable techniques for determining gadolinium levels. If your doctor is unfamiliar with gadolinium poisoning, relies on inaccurate tests, or does not recommend a more qualified medical professional, that might constitute medical negligence.
“Chelation therapy” is a treatment used to treat toxicity from heavy metals in the body. The process involves administering chelation agents to the patient through an IV, pill, or suppository. The chelation agents bind to the gadolinium, removing it through the kidneys. Your doctor should be familiar with chelation treatments if gadolinium-based contrast agents are administered. Failing to consider this treatment option might be considered medical malpractice.
Call Our Maryland Attorney for Gadolinium Poisoning from an MRI
If you or a loved one suffered an injury from gadolinium poisoning or if a loved one passed away due to nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, call our Maryland attorney for gadolinium poisoning from an MRI. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will work diligently to ensure you are compensated for your pain and suffering. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free case consultation.