Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and gadolinium-based contrast agents

Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2011 May;18(3):188-98. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2011.03.001.


The strong association between nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) and exposure to gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) has greatly affected the care of patients with kidney disease. NSF has been reported in patients with ESRD, CKD, and acute kidney injury (AKI). The majority of cases have occurred in patients with ESRD, but about 20% have been reported in patients with AKI or CKD stages 4 and 5. There is also a risk difference among GBCAs, with the Food and Drug Administration contraindicating 3 linear agents in patients at risk. Given the significant morbidity and mortality of NSF, it is imperative to identify individuals at risk. Although there are no data to support a role for hemodialysis (HD) in reducing the risk for NSF after administration of GBCAs, immediate HD is still recommended within 2 hours. Patients maintained on peritoneal dialysis seem to be at high risk and immediate HD is also recommended. However, this is not the current recommendation for CKD stages 4 and 5, especially with suspected lower risk of noncontraindicated agents. Individualized assessment is important and especially in those patients close to dialysis initiation. Instituting policies is important to address the imaging needs of patients with CKD and AKI while ensuring a balance between benefits and risks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects*
  • Gadolinium / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / complications*
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / chemically induced*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / epidemiology
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / pathology
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium