“Among those with NSF, the risk of dying within two years was three to five times greater than for patients without the condition from the same dialysis centres,” says Jonathan Kay, MD, director of the Rheumatology Clinical Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the report’s senior author.

The primary symptoms of NSF are rapid and progressive thickening, hardening and darkening of the skin, primarily on the arms and legs. The condition also involves internal organs. NSF can be extremely painful. The condition has been reported only during the past ten years and only among patients with abnormal kidney function, primarily those with advanced kidney disease. In 2006, an Austrian physician noted that NSF developed in several of his dialysis patients who had undergone magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies using gadolinium-containing contrast.

To better assess the prevalence of NSF among patients with advanced kidney disease and to examine a potential association with gadolinium-containing contrast agents, the research team enrolled haemodialysis patients treated at six outpatient centres in the Boston area. Among 186 study participants, 25 (13 percent) were determined to have NSF.

Electronic medical records were available for 90 participants; 17 of those had a skin examination consistent with NSF, all but one with documented prior exposure to gadolinium. The investigators were particularly surprised to find that 48 percent of participants with skin changes of NSF died within two years of their examination. Among participants without NSF, the death rate was 20 percent, which would be expected among patients with advanced kidney failure undergoing long-term haemodialysis treatment.

MEDICA.de; Source: Massachusetts General Hospital