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Gadolinium is a member of the lanthanide series of the periodic table of elements and is considered a nonessential element. Due to its paramagnetic properties, chelated gadolinium is commonly employed as contrast media for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer tomography (CT) scanning.
Gadolinium is eliminated primarily by the renal filtration. In healthy subjects with normal renal function, the plasma half-life of gadolinium is approximately 90 minutes. Patients with reduced renal function exhibit increased gadolinium excretion half-life.
Patient with reduced renal function exposed to gadolinium chelates used as MRI or CT contrast media may be affected by nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). In this syndrome, prolonged retention of gadolinium is thought to allow the gadolinium cation to dissociate from its synthetic organic chelator and deposit predominantly in the skin, although other organs may be affected as well. These patients are often severely debilitated by progressive skin thickening and tightening. Fibrosis of skeletal muscle, lungs, liver, testes, and myocardium have also been observed, often with fatal results.
Three hemodialysis treatments are required to substantially remove gadolinium from patients with impaired renal function; peritoneal dialysis is not effective.
Evaluation of dermal tissue for gadolinium
Elevated gadolinium (>0.5 mcg/g) observed in affected dermal tissue specimens collected more than 48 hours after administration of gadolinium-containing contrast media indicates gadolinium deposition. These patients may have increased risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF).
In individuals with NSF, affected tissues are likely to contain gadolinium at concentrations in the range of 4 to 186 mcg/g. Unaffected tissues from gadolinium-exposed subjects exhibit gadolinium concentration of 0.6 to 28 mcg/g.
A reportable gadolinium concentration in tissue suggests recent administration of gadolinium-containing contrast media. Patients with increased gadolinium in affected dermal tissue have an increased risk to develop NSF.
This test is useful for evaluation of dermal tissue. No other tissue types have been validated. The reference range applies only to dermal tissue.
Tissue gadolinium concentration will be elevated if the specimen is collected <48 hours of administration of gadolinium-containing contrast media. This elevation is due to residual gadolinium present from contrast media infusion. Elevated gadolinium in a specimen collected <48 hours after contrast media infusion does not indicate risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.
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