By Dr. Mercola
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the better choices if you need a diagnostic imaging procedure performed. Unlike CT scans or X-rays, an MRI does not use ionizing radiation that may cause DNA damage or cancer.
Instead, a strong magnetic field and radio waves produce cross-sectional images of your organs and other internal body structures. In some cases, however, a gadolinium contrast medium is used to make the images clearer (this is typically called an enhanced MRI).
There are risks involved when contrast agents are used, including potential brain abnormalities revealed by a new study, so it’s important to use extreme caution and only get an enhanced MRI if it is absolutely necessary.
Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents Linked to Brain Hypersensitivity
Gadolinium is a paramagnetic metal ion that moves differently within a magnetic field. When used during an MRI, it may make certain tissues, abnormalities, or diseases more clearly visible.
However, because the gadolinium ion is known to be toxic, it is chemically bonded with non-metal ions when used during MRIs to allow it to be eliminated from your body before it is released in your tissues.
For the first time, a new study has shown that the gadolinium may not be immediately eliminated and may instead persist in your body.1 The study compared brain images of patients who had undergone six or more contrast-enhanced MRI brain scans with those of patients who had received six or fewer unenhanced scans.
It revealed areas of high intensity, or hyperintensity, in two brain regions (the dentate nucleus (DN) and globus pallidus (GP)), which correlated with the number of gadolinium-based enhanced MRIs.
It’s unknown at this time what the hyperintensity may mean, however hyperintensity in the DN is associated with multiple sclerosis. It’s now being suggested that this hyperintensity may be the result of the large number of enhanced MRI scans often received by multiple sclerosis patients. Hyperintensity of the GP, meanwhile, is linked with liver dysfunction.