test tubes

What Are the Chances of an MRI Contrast Dye Allergy?

15 Mar 2021 MRI

As we’ve covered in other articles, gadolinium-based contrast dyes play an essential role in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations. Contrast dyes allow technicians to capture high-quality images of various body structures, and for the most part, they’re extremely well tolerated. Patients rarely suffer side effects from gadolinium, and when they do, those side effects are typically mild.

With that said, many patients have understandable concerns about magnetic resonance contrast media. If you’ve got a history of serious allergies, will gadolinium endanger your health?

To put it plainly, probably not. Hypersensitivity is extremely rare, and while patients should always discuss medical concerns with their physicians, we did some research to try to put gadolinium allergies in perspective.

If you’re not sure why gadolinium is necessary, be sure to read our article on contrast dyes.

How Common Are Gadolinium Allergies?

A 2012 study looked at 84,367 patients. Of those participants, 102 patients had hypersensitive reactions to gadolinium. That’s about 0.121 percent of the test group. If you’re otherwise healthy, the chances of an allergic reaction are extremely remote.

Other important takeaways from that study:

  • Women were more likely to have gadolinium allergies than men. Female patients had about 1.687 greater odds of suffering a hypersensitive reaction.
  • Patients with allergies were more likely to suffer a reaction. The odds ratio increased to about 2.829 for these patients, so if you have a history of asthma or allergies, be sure to tell your MRI team.
  • Patients who received multiple doses were more likely to suffer a reaction. If you regularly receive MRIs, you might eventually have a reaction, even if you haven’t had any side effects yet. Still, we’d like to hammer home this point: Reactions of any kind are extremely rare.
  • Most of those hypersensitive reactions weren’t severe. 91.1 percent of patients only suffered urticaria (the medical name for hives). A more severe anaphylactic reaction occurred in 11 cases (9.8 percent of allergic patients). Due to one fatality — and remember, this study looked at more than 84,000 patients — the mortality rate was 0.0007 percent.
  • Some dyes were more likely to cause a reaction than others. Gadodiamide, for instance, had a hypersensitivity rate of only 0.013 percent. That means that if you do have an allergy, your technicians can probably find a dye that you can tolerate.

When you set up your MRI, be sure to tell your physician and your imaging team about any allergies or any reactions you suffered in past procedures. However, don’t worry about the dye; it’s extremely safe, and even if you have a reaction, it will probably be treated easily before you leave the examination room.

Remember, if you need an MRI, you can save a tremendous amount of money by comparing costs. Precise Imaging has evaluated a large network of professional MRI clinics, and our convenient online tools help to make the process much less stressful. Call us at 800-558-2223 to book your appointment or email [email protected] to get started.