Extracellular gadolinium-based contrast media: an overview

Eur J Radiol. 2008 May;66(2):160-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.01.023. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Increasing use is made of extracellular MRI contrast agents that alter the image contrast following intravenous administration; they predominantly shorten the T1 relaxation time of tissues. The degree and location of these changes provide substantial diagnostic information. However gadolinium-based contrast agents (Gd-CA) are not inert drugs. They may cause acute non-renal adverse reactions (e.g. anaphylactoid reactions), acute renal adverse reactions (e.g. contrast induced nephropathy), delayed adverse reactions (nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) and problems at the site of injection (e.g. local necrosis). This review describes the current status of Gd-CA, their mechanism of action, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics, dosage, elimination, nephrotoxicity and adverse events.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / adverse effects
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects
  • Gadolinium / chemistry*
  • Gadolinium / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced
  • Teratogens / chemistry
  • Viscosity


  • Contrast Media
  • Teratogens
  • Gadolinium