Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and management of high-risk patients

Acad Radiol. 2009 Jul;16(7):897-905. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Apr 17.


The purpose of this work is to provide current information on the rapidly evolving subject of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), to establish the radiologic approach to the management of high-risk patients for NSF, and to assess the probabilistic risk of NSF compared to contrast induced nephropathy (CIN), as encountered with iodinated contrast media used in computed tomographic (CT) imaging. NSF is a disease process of considerable concern following gadolinium-containing contrast agents (GCCA) exposure in patients with diminished renal function. To minimize the possibility of NSF development in high-risk patients, GGCAs should not be used when they are not necessary, or the GCCAs, that have not at present been associated with NSF development, should be used at the lowest possible diagnostic dose, when they are necessary. Contrast-induced nephropathy is also a great risk in this patient population following the adminstration of iodinated contrast media (CM). In patients with diminished renal function who are not on regular dialysis, the risk of CIN following the administration of iodinated CM is higher than the risk of NSF following the administration of the most stable GCCAs. Risk benefit analysis should be performed prior to the administration of all CM, and the best combination of safety and diagnostic accuracy should be sought. Concern of NSF or CIN should not prevent the use of contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography when they are deemed essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects*
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / chemically induced*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / epidemiology*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / prevention & control
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium