Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis associated with gadolinium based contrast agents: a summary of the medical literature reporting

Eur J Radiol. 2008 May;66(2):230-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is a systemic fibrosing disorder that principally affects the skin, but can involve virtually any tissue in the human body and result in significant disability and even death. Since 2006 numerous retrospective case reports and case series have reported a very strong association of this disease with exposure to gadolinium-based contrast agents (Gd-CA) for MR imaging in the setting of severe or end-stage renal disease. The purpose of this report is to summarize the medical literature reporting of biopsy-proven NSF cases in which the authors specifically investigated patient exposure to Gd-CA. A Pub Med MEDLINE search was performed using the key words--nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy. All case reports and case series of NSF were reviewed to determine if patients had a preceding exposure to Gd-CA and which specific Gd-CA was involved. If the original reports did not clarify the specific Gd-CA, I reviewed follow-up letters to the editors or contacted the authors to clarify which specific Gd-CA were linked to the NSF cases. If several reports originated from the same institution, clarification was also obtained to avoid redundant reporting. As of February 1, 2008 there have been 190 biopsy-proven cases of NSF published in the peer-reviewed literature with the following associations: 157 gadodiamide (Omniscan, GE Healthcare), 8 gadopentetate (Magnevist, Bayer Healthcare), 3 gadoversetamide (OptiMARK, Covidien), and 18 unspecified Gd-CA, and 4 confounded cases with more than one Gd-CA. Five cases of NSF were unassociated with Gd-CA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium