Could some MRIs be doing more harm than good? It's too early to say definitively, but ProPublica points to new research in the journal Radiology showing that a potentially toxic metal is ending up in the brains of patients. The concern revolves contrasting agents, drugs used to make the image results sharper. Some are made from the metal gadolinium, and the researchers found gadolinium in the brain tissue of MRI patients. They did not call for radiologists to stop using them but urged more research, saying the findings questioned the "safety of at least some" of the agents. The two in question were Omniscan, made by GE Healthcare, and Magnevist, made by Bayer HealthCare.
Both companies said they were monitoring the matter, and both have confidentially settled "hundreds of lawsuits" while denying liability, reports ProPublica. It has previously reported on the potential health risks of Omniscan, risks that moved the FDA to issue a "black box" warning. The new studies "have set off alarms because they show that even patients with healthy kidneys are retaining gadolinium from Omniscan and Magnevist," writes Jeff Gerth, who notes that nine gadolinium-based agents are on the US market. "Estimates are that about one-third of the 20 million MRIs in the United States each year use one of the nine contrast agents." Click for the full piece, which includes an interview with a woman convinced that an MRI is behind her cognitive problems.