Attorney for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Taking Gadolinium
Gadolinium plays an important role in MRI technology (magnetic resonance imaging), enabling doctors to make faster and more accurate diagnoses. However, exposure to gadolinium can also be extremely dangerous, particularly for patients with kidney disease or other kidney problems. As recently as December 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medications in the United States, required new warnings and additional research on gadolinium products used in MRI procedures. Exposure to gadolinium may cause gadolinium deposition disease (GDD), or a life-threatening condition alternately known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD) and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF).
If you or one of your family members was diagnosed with GDD or NFD/NSF after undergoing an MRI scan, you should talk to a gadolinium lawsuit attorney about your legal options. You may have grounds to file a gadolinium injury claim, which could result in your receiving financial compensation. For example, you may be able to get compensated for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost earnings related to GDD or NSF/NFD. For a free legal consultation about gadolinium toxicity lawsuits and whether you might have a case, contact The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked online, or call (305) 690-0244. We handle NFD/NSF and GDD lawsuits throughout the United States.
What is Gadolinium Used For?
Gadolinium is used in many medical procedures, but it is not a medication. It is a rare metal found in minerals like gadolinite, monazite, and bastnaesite. Gadolinium is mined from sources around the world, chiefly the United States, Russia, China, India, and Australia.
Due to its unique chemical properties, gadolinium is frequently used to perform MRI scans, which use a technique called “magnetic resonance imaging” to produce images of internal organs. More specifically, gadolinium is used to create gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs), which help to create clearer, sharper images. While detailed MRI scans are useful in evaluating and treating patients, they may come at a very high cost for patients who go on to be diagnosed with GDD or related conditions.
How Dangerous is Gadolinium?
Gadolinium has been used in medical scans since 1988, when it was first approved for use. Until recently, gadolinium dyes were thought to be reasonably safe for use due to the number of MRI patients who did not experience adverse effects. While researchers have long acknowledged that gadolinium may pose health risks for patients with compromised kidney function, GBCAs are often used on the wider population when MRI scans become necessary for treatment. Though commonly associated with MRIs, gadolinium may also be used in other types of medical scans, such as:
- CT scans (computed tomography)
- Ultrasound imaging
On December 19, 2017, the FDA issued a press release that called for additional research into gadolinium, warning of newfound potential dangers. The FDA announced it would require “a new class warning for all GBCAs about gadolinium remaining in the body for months or years after receiving the drug.”
In the press release, the FDA concluded, “Gadolinium retention has not been directly linked to adverse health effects in patients with normal kidney function and the… benefit of all approved GBCAs continues to outweigh any potential risks.” However, even without a history of kidney issues, exposure to GBCAs may still pose a threat of triggering GDD. Some of the patients at highest risk include:
- Patients who receive multiple doses
- Pregnant women
In 2016, the medical journal Magnetic Resonance Imaging published a study on gadolinium toxicity and potential treatment methods. The study found that, though statistically rare, “Severe life-threatening anaphylactic and fatal reactions do occur” in patients who receive doses of GBCAs, with approximately 40 fatalities reported from 2004 to 2009.
What is Gadolinium Deposition Disease (GDD)?
Gadolinium has been shown to cause GDD, which causes a range of unpleasant, potentially debilitating symptoms. In addition to GDD, exposure to GBCAs can also cause patients to develop a deadly condition known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD), also called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). These outcomes are especially likely in patients with weakened kidney function.
Symptoms of Gadolinium Deposition Disease
GDD has a sudden onset, with initial symptoms generally appearing within days or even hours of the patient’s MRI. Though symptoms tend to improve after onset, they can also linger for years, causing ongoing health issues without the proper treatment.
GDD symptoms can affect many parts of the body, from the muscles and joints to the skin and head. Warning signs and symptoms of GDD may include the following:
- Bone or Joint Pain – While any bones or joints can be affected, pain tends to be especially pronounced in the ribs. Rib pain is a hallmark symptom of GDD.
- Burning Skin – Depending on the patient, the burning sensations characteristic of GDD may be felt virtually anywhere on the body. However, they are most frequently associated with the limbs or abdomen.
- Headaches – Head pain and headaches are generally among the first symptoms to develop after exposure to GBCAs. Many people diagnosed with GDD say the pain is unlike other headaches they have felt, frequently describing the sensations as either a feeling of skin tightness or a burning sensation.
- Mental Fog – Also called “brain fog” or simply “mental confusion,” this is another one of the early-stage symptoms of GDD. The patient may feel unable to focus or concentrate.
- Thick or Discolored Tissue – Unlike the other symptoms on this list, which tend to appear soon after exposure, this symptom generally does not occur until at least two weeks have passed. The patient may notice the skin on their arms or legs getting thicker and feeling tighter, causing pain and discoloration in the affected area.
Various treatments are available for GDD, depending on factors like the severity of the case and the patient’s personal medical history. For example, your doctor may start by prescribing anti-inflammatory medications to provide short-term relief. Antihistamine drugs, which are normally used to combat allergies and insomnia, may also provide relief. The FDA is reviewing a GDD treatment known as diethelentriamineepentaacetic acid (DTPA), which is already used to treat similar conditions caused by lead exposure.
Symptoms of Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NFD)
Nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD), or nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), is a poorly-understood condition that was not first diagnosed until 1997. This condition was described in Magnetic Resonance Imaging as a “debilitating and potentially life-threatening disease” that occurs in patients who have “renal insufficiency,” meaning patients with kidney failure. Patients diagnosed with NFD experience painful symptoms that include thickening of the skin, scarification of organs, and the tightening and contracture of joints, resulting in a limited range of motion. NSF is a very rare condition, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noting just over 300 cases.
NFD is often a fatal condition because its symptoms can increase the risk of accidents, such as accidental falls caused by mobility problems from joint contracture. NSF can also cause death by interfering with normal respiration, a problem which worsens as organ scarring causes a buildup of tissue.
Filing a Gadolinium Lawsuit
If you or one of your family members developed gadolinium-related health problems after undergoing an MRI or receiving other types of medical scans, you may have cause to file an MRI contrast dye lawsuit. Numerous claims have already been filed by injury victims around the country, with more expected to develop in the future as gadolinium use continues.
In many situations where multiple people are injured by the same product, such as a prescription drug or medical device, it is common for the injury victims to band together, merging their cases into a single consolidated case called a “class action.” However, a class action lawsuit may not be the best option for every plaintiff to pursue injury compensation after gadolinium exposure.
An alternative to a class action lawsuit is to file an individual lawsuit, which may be part of a larger case called a “mass tort.” In personal injury law, a “tort” is an act that creates liability, like causing an injury by failing to warn patients of risks. Though similar to a class action, a mass tort is larger and more complex, but may produce better outcomes for plaintiffs, depending on the unique circumstances of the case.
Various types of compensation, called “damages,” may be available from a gadolinium settlement or award if the plaintiff prevails. Compensation for gadolinium toxicity victims may include compensation for medical bills and treatment, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and earnings the victim lost due to their condition, including diminished future earning capacity.
Gadolinium Lawsuit Lawyer for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims
Prosper Shaked is an aggressive gadolinium injury attorney dedicated to fighting for the victims of GDD, NSF/NFD, and their family members. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with GDD or NFD/NSF after undergoing an MRI, or developed other serious complications, Prosper Shaked is here to provide compassionate support, legal guidance, and representation that is dedicated to your best interests. For a free legal consultation about filing a gadolinium injury lawsuit, call The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked at (305) 690-0244, or contact us online today.