How is nephrogenic systemic fibrosis treated?

Currently, there are no effective treatments. Dialysis can remove gadolinium from the body after an MRI, but there is no evidence that this stops patients from developing nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Therefore, patients already on dialysis should undergo a dialysis session right after being given gadolinium for an MRI, but starting dialysis for this purpose is not recommended.

Avoiding exposure of at-risk patients to gadolinium is the best practice but there may be situations when gadolinium must be given to obtain the best information from an MRI.

We recommend giving intravenous fluids to patients at risk who still make urine and using the low-risk gadolinium compounds. MRIs using gadolinium contrast can be ordered for many reasons, including to look for possible masses in the skull, study the blood vessels throughout the body, look for malignancies and evaluate unknown masses in the body. Patients who have certain kidney problems should not undergo these tests unless there is no other way to diagnose a problem.

GBCAs can provide crucial, life-saving medical information. Each time a gadolinium-enhanced MRI study is considered, doctors should weigh the benefit of the MRI against the potential risk of gadolinium deposition for each individual patient.

If your physician orders an MRI with contrast agents and you have kidney problems, ask him or her if you are at risk for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. If so, ask what alternative tests are available for you.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/18/2018.

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