The first bellwether trial regarding gadolinium and causing the fatal disease nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is scheduled for January.
Plaintiffs in the first trial are Loralei and Donald Knase. They filed suit against GE Healthcare, claiming that a serious case of NSF was triggered by the MRI contrasting agent Omniscan.
MRI and kidney failure is linked in such a way, it should be noted, that while MRI does not cause kidney failure, the use of an MRI contrast agent can have dire consequences for anyone with kidney disease, due to the inability of someone with weak or malfunctioning kidneys to clear out the contrast agent.
Kidney patients who require MRI with a contrast agent such as gadolinium are recommended to have MRI dialysis (in other words, dialysis immediately following the MRI) in an effort to expedite the eradication of gadolinium from the bloodstream.
Plaintiffs involved in hundreds of lawsuits allege that gadolinium caused them to develop NSF, which causes hardening of the skin and tissue growth along joints, eyes and internal organs.
There is no treatment or cure for NSF, and the disease can be fatal.
Lawsuits were consolidated in late 2008 in US District Court, Northern District of Ohio, after almost 400 cases were filed across the country. Trials were originally set for May of this year, but a number of the suits against Bayer, one of the defendants, settled.
US District Court Judge Dan E. Polster set the trial date for the Knase action as January 24, 2011.
On a related note, MRI health risks also exist for individuals with pacemakers. Due to the intense magnetic fields associated with MRI, patients cannot wear or be near anything metallic. That goes for an implanted pacemaker.
Earlier this year, Medtronic received European approval for its Ensura MRI SureScan pacing system. Medtronic announced in June that European patients with the new device would have access to full MRI scans without positioning restrictions in the MRI scanner.
The system is, so far, not approved in the US—thus continued MRI health risks for individuals with traditional pacemakers remain.