MRIs: What Your Doctor May Not Warn You About

We’ve previously written about the massive amount of radiation that patients are exposed to in CAT and PET scans, which make MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) a generally safer diagnostic imaging procedure. MRIs produce a strong magnetic field followed by radio waves that create cross-sectional images of our organs.

Often doctors want an improved image—an enhanced MRI—and prescribe a shot of gadolinium as a contrast agent to make the image clearer. For years, there was no package warning about this chemical. Now there is a black box warning—but how many patients ever see the package?

Patients with impaired kidney function are at special risk from any exposure to gadolinium. In these patients, the use of this contrast agent has been linked to the development of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), which can lead to kidney damage requiring dialysis, or even death. It is not a good trade-off for doctors to get a clearer image but destroy your kidneys in the process. But despite the warning label updated in 2010, nobody is talking about this, least of all radiologists who administer the shot. There is also evidence of danger to a broader range of patients.

Write to the American College of Radiology and the FDA and urge them to reconsider the use of gadolinium as a contrasting agent in MRIs.


  • Food and Drug Administration
  • American College of Radiology


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Please reconsider the use of gadolinium in MRIs

Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]