The Dangers of MRIs

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is a rare disease, but to the 400 or so people known to have it—and many more who have yet to be diagnosed—it is an incurable, painful, debilitating and even deadly condition.

NSF, first discovered in 1997, has been linked to gadolinium-based contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging. So far, it has been found only in people suffering from kidney disease. NSF begins with a thickening and tightening of the skin. It can progress quickly, to the point that tightening around the joints renders a person unable to move his legs, feet, hands and arms. Eventually, an NSF sufferer can hardly perform simple daily tasks, being restricted to a wheelchair or bed.

The symptoms of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis are such that the tightening can even constrict airways and internal organs, leading to death. Since there is no cure and NSF is so resistant to treatment, people with kidney disease should avoid gadolinium. However, few patients, and even few of their physicians, realize the danger. The appearance of NSF symptoms can range from days to months.

If you have undergone an MRI and felt the symptoms of NSF, seek medical attention immediately to get tested for the disease. Here are some of the symptoms of the disease:

  • Tightening and swelling of the skin, which often starts with the legs, and moves to the arms and trunk
  • Thickening of the skin around the joints, which reduces movement
  • Red or dark patches of skin
  • Burning, itching, and/or sharp pains in affected areas
  • Fluctuating hypertension before the appearance of skin lesions
  • Muscular weakness
  • Pain in the hips and ribs
  • Calcification of soft tissues
  • Yellow plaques around the eyes

The best approach to treating NSF seems to be an improvement of renal function, either by kidney transplant or other medical treatment. Other treatment options have been tried, but most come with serious side effects and are only marginally successful. Physical therapy has proven helpful to some NSF patients, and it does not present the dangerous side effects of other treatments.

If you or a loved one suffers from this disease, you may wish to talk to an NSF attorney about filing a nephrogenic systemic fibrosis lawsuit.

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