Gadolinium Facts – how long does gadolinium stay in the body?

If you’re getting an MRI here are 10 facts you should know about Gadolinium and MRI scans

We’ve scoured the Internet to provide you some of the most common questions and answers on both MRI scans and the use of gadolinium, which a contrast dye used in almost every MRI procedure.  Facts and figures were compiled from various sources found online with links provided below.  Now presenting facts about Gadolinium and MRI scans!

  • What is an MRI Scan?

The technology of MRI scans was developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly known as an MRI, is a widely used medical technology, and is often employed as the preferred imaging tool for disorders of the musculoskeletal system (rheumatologic and orthopedic) and neurologic conditions, as it can better delineate soft tissue structures than either plain x rays or computerized tomography (CT). MRI’s use a combination of magnets, radio waves and computer systems that allow detailed imaging inside your body. Because they don’t use any radioactive compounds, they are generally considered safe.  MRI scans are generally a longer process than CAT scans.  MRI machines are long slender bed like tubes that enclose the patients.

Recently reports have surfaced that many people getting an MRI, may in fact not need to undergo these scans.  Please contact your doctor if you have any concerns on MRIs.

  • How many people get an MRI scan?

MRI scans are very popular and continue to rise in the U.S.  Based on research data provided from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD link below), the United States is a world leader both in the availability (number of scanners per million population; second only to Japan) and utilization (number of MRI scans per year per 1,000 population; highest in the world) of MRI scans. These numbers has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years.MRI machine

  • What is Gadolinium used for? What are contrast agents?

Gadolinium is a whitish rare earth heavy metal discovered in 1880 by Jean Charles de Marignac. It has, by nature fluorescent properties.  It’s these properties that are sought after for use in the medical world, mostly for the use in magnetic resonance imaging.  Gadolinium free ions are toxic to mammals but when chelated (bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) these ions are eliminated from the body.  Not all MRI scans use gadolinium; it’s generally used for better visibility for scans of internal organs like the liver.  Many currently used MRI contrast agents in America contain some level of gadolinium.  Generally speaking most of the time gadolinium use over the years has proved safe in MRIs. Gadolinium is delivered via injections that take between 10 and 30 seconds to administer.

  • How long does it take for gadolinium to get out of your system?

Gadolinium is processed and removed by the body by the kidneys via excretion.  This is a known toxic ion but because of the chemical process of chelation (see above number 3), this ion is not absorbed in the body.  Since everyone is different some people may process gadolinium faster than others.  Time ranges have been reported of 1.5 – 2 hours.  Because this is a heavy metal ion, time ranges are described as “half-life”.  The half-life of gadolinium is 90 minutes.  Half life of gadolinium chart

Some people have made public their experiences with getting gadolinium out of their system; we found one, Doctor L. Cozzarelli from Thomas Jefferson University who stated – “I got a urine toxicity test because I suspected I had heavy metal poisoning. My *unprovoked* 24-hour urine test results were 6.154 micrograms/g creatinine, which is 324 times the maximum normal amount in the reference range—six weeks after the injection. I am now working to chelate this poison out of my body. This may not happen to everyone, but it is shocking how many people’s lives have been negatively impacted by this medical practice. Look on any MRI gadolinium toxicity group on FB or yahoo and you’ll see what I mean. I find the lack of informed consent in the medical community regarding this procedure appalling, and I’m an M.D.”

If a person who undergoes an MRI scan with gadolinium and has renal problems the ion may be deposited in the skin or bones.

It should be strongly noted that if a person has any kidney problems be sure to discuss the use of gadolinium with them, as it can be dangerous for those with impaired renal systems.   

  • What is gadolinium toxicity?

To get this answer we use the National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health data published online in April 6, 2016. Entitled “Gadolinium-based contrast agent toxicity: a review of known and proposed mechanisms” Link here:

This is a lengthy read, but one statement makes it clear: “Due to a lack of retrospective or prospective clinical cohort studies regarding the association of post-exposure medical conditions and recurrent GBCA exposure, the clinical significance of gadolinium tissue accumulation in patients without renal impairment is not fully known. Nonetheless, the potential for toxicity can be gleaned from published data of in vivo and in vitro studies of gadolinium toxicity, GBCA biochemistry, and differential gadolinium chelate stability.”

However the F.D.A. did publish a safety announcement in July 2015 that it is currently investigating the risk of brain deposits. Link here:

  • What are the possible side effects of gadolinium?

Recently a terrible new possible side effect of gadolinium has made news.  It’s called gadolinium deposition disease, and on November 2, 2017 Chuck Norris and his wife filed a gadolinium lawsuit.  In this lawsuit they claim that an MRI containing gadolinium poisoned his wife and left her with burning pain. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco.  Symptoms of gadolinium deposition disease include:

  • Brain fog or “chemo brain” symptoms.
  • Memory loss.
  • Impairment in thinking.
  • Intense burning of the skin
  • Intense bone or joint pain.
  • Discoloration in the lower arm or leg.
  • Skin thickening.
  • Skin stiffness.

Read more about gadolinium deposition disease

  • Is gadolinium safe to use?

This is one of the most important questions on gadolinium. The gadolinium ion is known to be toxic to mammals.  This is why it is chelated before use in MRI scans.  To gauge safety we look to the FDA website and others for answers.  We found that there were many lawsuits filed in 2005 based on a side effect called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). This is a disease that generally affects the skin and other organs.  Recently more safety concerns were made public about the brain storing this contrast agent.

Many doctors today state that any possible side effect of gadolinium doesn’t outweigh the positive use of MRI scans and the possibility of getting either nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) or gadolinium deposition disease (GDD) are low when looking at the total number of MRI scans performed every year.

  • Is there any iodine in gadolinium?

The quick answer is…there is no iodine in gadolinium contrast dye. Many people confuse iodine containing contrast medium that is used in medical X-ray imaging.  This is very much different than gadolinium contrast dye.

  • Can you eat and drink before an MRI?

To be safe please consult your doctor if you are considering getting an MRI.  Some doctors are recommending NOT eating or drinking anything for up to 4 hours before the scan. Others recommend drinking plenty of water prior to the MRI scan.

  • Can you put on deodorant for an MRI?

Generally speaking many popular brands of deodorants contain some levels of aluminum. Because an MRI generates a magnetic field the aluminum would throw off the scanning or computing systems. 


If you found this blog and know someone who was hurt from gadolinium, contact us today at 1-800-214-1010 for a free review of your situation.