Risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: evaluation of gadolinium chelate contrast agents at four American universities

Radiology. 2008 Sep;248(3):799-806. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2483072093. Epub 2008 Jul 15.


Purpose: To retrospectively determine the benchmark incidence of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) related to the confirmed use of different gadolinium chelate contrast agents at four U.S. university tertiary care centers.

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained for this HIPAA-compliant multi-institutional study; the requirement for informed patient consent was waived. Patients who had a diagnosis of NSF between January 2000 and December 2006 were identified at four tertiary care centers with renal transplant and dialysis services. A standard checklist was used to acquire reliable data from the four centers. The diagnosis of NSF was confirmed histopathologically in all patients. The association of NSF development with gadolinium chelate contrast agent administration in each patient was assessed. The type and cumulative dose of contrast agent administered to each patient with NSF were determined at each center by using the standard checklist. The benchmark incidence of NSF was determined and expressed as the ratio of the number of patients with NSF who had undergone gadolinium chelate-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, relative to the total number of patients who underwent gadolinium chelate-enhanced MR imaging at each tertiary care center. Benchmark incidences of NSF were compared among the four centers by using Fisher exact tests.

Results: Gadodiamide was used at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (center A) and Emory University (center B), and gadopentetate dimeglumine was used at Wake Forest University (center C) and Thomas Jefferson University (center D) during the study period. Twenty-three patients at center A, nine patients at center B, three patients at center C, and one patient at center D had NSF and had undergone gadolinium chelate-enhanced MR imaging. The incidence of NSF was one in 2913 patients who underwent gadodiamide-enhanced MR examinations and one in 44,224 patients who underwent gadopentetate dimeglumine-enhanced MR examinations.

Conclusion: The benchmark incidence of NSF was much greater at the two centers where gadodiamide was used than at the two centers where gadopentetate dimeglumine was used.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chelating Agents*
  • Comorbidity
  • Gadolinium*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Insufficiency / epidemiology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Syndrome
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Chelating Agents
  • Gadolinium