Field strength and dose dependence of contrast enhancement by gadolinium-based MR contrast agents

Eur Radiol. 1999;9(5):998-1004. doi: 10.1007/s003300050781.


The relaxivities r1 and r2 of magnetic resonance contrast agents and the T1 relaxation time values of tissues are strongly field dependent. We present quantitative data and simulations of different gadolinium-based extracellular fluid contrast agents and the modulation of their contrast enhancement by the magnetic field to be able to answer the following questions: How are the dose and field dependences of their contrast enhancement? Is there an interrelationship between dose and field dependence? Should one increase or decrease doses at specific fields? Nuclear magnetic relaxation dispersion data were acquired for the following contrast agents: gadopentetate dimeglumine, gadoterate meglumine, gadodiamide injection, and gadoteridol injection, as well as for several normal and pathological human tissue samples. The magnetic field range stretched from 0.0002 to 4.7 T, including the entire clinical imaging range. The data acquired were then fitted with the appropriate theoretical models. The combination of the diamagnetic relaxation rates (R1 = 1/T1 and R2 = 1/T2) of tissues with the respective paramagnetic contributions of the contrast agents allowed the prediction of image contrast at any magnetic field. The results revealed a nearly identical field and dose-dependent increase of contrast enhancement induced by these contrast agents within a certain dose range. The target tissue concentration (TTC) was an important though nonlinear factor for enhancement. The currently recommended dose of 0.1 mmol/kg body weight seems to be a compromise close to the lower limits of diagnostically sufficient contrast enhancement for clinical imaging at all field strengths. At low field contrast enhancement might be insufficient. Adjustment of dose or concentration, or a new class of contrast agents with optimized relaxivity, would be a valuable contribution to a better diagnostic yield of contrast enhancement at all fields.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage*
  • Gadolinium* / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium