What is an MRI Contrast?
During your MRI test, your technologist may use an MRI contrast. UT Medical Center uses three different types of contrasts, or dyes. These make your images clearer, so your doctor can see them better.
The three dyes you may receive are all made from a chemical called gadolinium. Their names are:
Why Am I Getting MRI Contrast?
Your doctor reviewed your medical records and asked us to use the contrast. That’s because he or she believes it will help you get better test results.
How Long Does It Stay in My Body?
The amount of time it stays in the body is different for each type of contrast. Some people may have an increased risk for gadolinium staying in their bodies. They are:
- People who have already had many doses of the dyes
- Women who are pregnant
- Young children
If you or someone you care for is in one of these groups, please let your doctor know before your exam.
Are There Side Effects?
Contrasts can cause side effects. These include:
- Feeling hot
- Feeling burning at the injection site
In addition, a small number of patients say that for a long time after their exam, they’ve:
- Had pain
- Been tired
- Had skin, muscle or bone ailments
But these symptoms have not been directly linked to contrast.
Sometimes, contrasts can cause serious allergic reactions. Your technologist will monitor you closely for symptoms of an allergic reaction during your exam.
These are not all the possible side effects contrast.
Please call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Should I Avoid Getting Contrast?
Certain people should not have contrast or should use it in very limited amounts.
People whose kidneys don’t work well have trouble filtering the dye out of their bodies. As a result, those people can develop a condition called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. That causes severe thickening of the skin, muscles and other organs in the body.
You will be screened to see how well your kidneys are working before you receive contrast.
Tell Your Treatment Team These Things
Before you get contrast, tell your health care provider about all your medical conditions if you:
- Have had any MRI procedures in the past where you received contrast
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if these dyes can harm your unborn baby. Talk to your health care provider about the possible risks to an unborn baby if contrast is needed
- Have kidney problems, diabetes or high blood pressure
- Have had an allergic reaction to dyes (contrast agents)
For More Information
Sometimes doctors prescribe medicines for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. For more information, ask your doctor for material that is written for health care professionals. And visit the sites for each contrast for more info:
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-332-1088
If you have any questions while you are at University Radiology, please ask your technologists.
The doctor who ordered your MRI will answer questions regarding other medications you may take.