Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: incidence, associations, and effect of risk factor assessment--report of 33 cases

Radiology. 2009 Feb;250(2):371-7. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2502080498.


Purpose: To describe the presentation and clinical course of patients with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) at a large acute-care hospital, to evaluate the overall incidence of NSF, and to assess the effect of a hospital-wide policy regarding gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA) use on NSF incidence.

Materials and methods: A review of all cases of NSF observed at an institution from 2003 to 2008 was conducted. This HIPAA-compliant study was approved by the institutional review board. The informed consent requirement was waived. Demographics, medical history, and associated conditions were recorded. Radiologic procedures were evaluated if they were performed within 1 year prior to NSF onset. GBCA use was assessed by checking the electronic database for each procedure. The incidence of NSF was compared before and after implementation of an institutional policy designed to assess risk of NSF prior to GBCA use.

Results: All 33 patients with NSF (mean age, 49 years; age range, 15-78 years) had advanced renal failure (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 15 mL/min/1.73 m(2)) when the GBCA was injected. Twenty-six patients had severe chronic or end-stage renal disease, and seven had acute renal failure. The mean interval between contrast material injection and NSF onset was 29 days +/- 25 (standard deviation) (range, 4-112 days). The overall incidence of NSF was 36.5 cases per 100,000 gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) examinations between 2003 and 2006 and four cases per 100,000 gadolinium-enhanced MR examinations between 2007 and 2008 after screening for NSF risk was instituted (Fisher exact test, P = .001). Five patients developed NSF in the peritransplant period, and four underwent a catheter-based radiographic procedure with administration of a GBCA.

Conclusion: Common associations of GBCA MR imaging and NSF were acute and severe chronic renal failure and liver or renal transplantation. Screening procedures performed before MR imaging to determine which patients were at risk of developing NSF appear to reduce the incidence of this complication and further support the belief that NSF is associated with GBCA administration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium / administration & dosage
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / chemically induced*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / epidemiology
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / therapy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium