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MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is a procedure for examining internal organs, skeleton, and tissues in the body. MRI machine looks like a large tube. The patient lies down on the hard surface which is slide into the tube. MRI pictures are very helpful in diagnosing a number of disorders. This diagnostic procedure is commonly performed in patients with multiple sclerosis, injuries of the spine, congenital deformities, aneurysm, dementia and problems with pituitary glands. MRI is also frequently used in order to test tumors or other disorders of the internal organs such as liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, uterus and prostate.


In a number of cases before the procedure starts, the doctor may inject the special dye into your vein. This contrast dye enhances the image and helps in detecting abnormal tissue. This dye contains gadolinium which is a heavy metal. The majority of patients do not have any problems with gadolinium but in patients with severe kidney disorders gadolinium can cause further complications.

Side Effects

The most dangerous side effect of an MRI contrast dye with gadolinium is a disease called neprhogenic systemic fibrosis. This disease affects the skin, eyes, joints and internal organs. This is a painful disease which can begin soon after the MRI with contrast dye was performed or even a few months later. The first symptoms of neprhogenic systemic fibrosis include changes on the skin of arms and legs. The color of the skin becomes pink, yellow or brown. Skin can change its texture and may become hard and thick. The disease can spread to the limbs and internal organs and impair their function. The other symptoms of neprhogenic systemic fibrosis include itching, burning and swelling of the skin, yellow spots in the eyes, joint stiffness which causes restricted movements, muscle weakness and pain in the body. This can be very dangerous condition which can lead to death. In some cases the patient may need a kidney transplant. Besides neprhogenic systemic fibrosis, the patient may feel some other side effects. Such side effects include skin irritation, blood clots, dizziness, short breath, blood vessels inflammation and allergic reactions.


In the United States there are 25 cases of neprhogenic systemic fibrosis which is a consequence of an MRI contrast dye. The first injection with contrast due was given in 1988. In 1997 the first patient was diagnosed with neprhogenic systemic fibrosis. Since 2007, a warning must be placed on contrast dyes which contain gadolinium.

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