May 24, 2017


Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Drug Safety Communication - No Harmful Effects Identified With Brain Retention

Drug
Cautionary Notice


Source:

FDA MedWatch

Issue:

Including: Ablavar (gadofosveset trisodium) Dotarem (gadoterate meglumine) Eovist (gadoxetate disodium) Gadavist (gadobutrol) Magnevist (gadopentetate dimeglumine) MultiHance (gadobenate dimeglumine) Omniscan (gadodiamide) OptiMARK (gadoversetamide) ProHance (gadoteridol)

An FDA review to date has not identified adverse health effects from gadolinium retained in the brain after the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All GBCAs may be associated with some gadolinium retention in the brain and other body tissues. However, because FDA identified no evidence to date that gadolinium retention in the brain from any of the GBCAs, including GBCAs associated with higher retention of gadolinium, is harmful, restricting GBCA use is not warranted at this time. FDA will continue to assess the safety of GBCAs and plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.

FDA evaluated scientific publications and adverse event reports submitted to FDA. Some human and animal studies looked at GBCA use over periods longer than a year. These publications and reports show that gadolinium is retained in organs such as the brain, bones, and skin. The publications show that linear GBCAs retain more gadolinium in the brain than macrocyclic GBCAs. However, the review did not identify adverse health effects related to this brain retention.

FDA continues to assess the safety of GBCAs. FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is conducting a study on brain retention of GBCAs in rats. Other research is also being conducted about how gadolinium is retained in the body. FDA will update the public when new information becomes available and we plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.

Background:

Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents are intravenous drugs used in diagnostic imaging procedures to enhance the quality of magnetic resonance imaging or magnetic resonance angiography.

Recommendation:

FDA recommendations for health care professionals and patients remain unchanged from July 2015 when FDA informed the public that FDA was investigating this potential risk with GBCAs. As is appropriate when considering the use of any medical imaging agent, health care professionals should limit GBCA use to circumstances in which additional information provided by the contrast agent is necessary, and assess the necessity of repetitive MRIs with GBCAs. Patients, parents, and caregivers should talk to their health care professionals if they have any questions or concerns about the use of GBCAs with MRIs. Retention of gadolinium affects only GBCAs, and does not apply to other types of scanning agents used for other imaging procedures, such as those that are iodine-based or radioisotopes.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
  • Download form or call 1 (800) 332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre‐addressed form, or submit by fax to 1 (800) FDA-0178.


Disclaimer:

The North American Spine Society is committed to quality patient care through promotion of patient safety and prevention of medical errors. NASS monitors a variety of government and other resources for patient safety-related notices that may be useful to our members. Information from these notices is also archived on the NASS website. This information is provided as a service for information and education only.