Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis—A Complication of Using Gadolinium-Containing Contrast Media

May 6, 2015 | Evaluations & Guidance


During the last 15 years, there have been a number of reports of a chronic disease that causes the skin and internal organs to harden in certain patients who have undergone MR studies. Originally called nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy, it has become known as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). It can be months before the symptoms of NSF develop, and the disease cannot be effectively treated. Once NSF symptoms become evident, they are followed by significant morbidity and sometimes death (Altun, Semelka, et al. 2009).

As of June 2010, there had been 335 voluntarily reported cases confirmed by the International Center for Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy Research (Cowper 2010). Although the true incidence is likely to be significantly higher, NSF fortunately remains a rare disease.

A common factor in patients who develop NSF is the use of contrast media containing gadolinium (Grobner 2006). Gd has been used to enhance MR studies for about 20 years, primarily because it was thought to be...

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