Gadolinium (Gd) is a metallic element (atomic number 64) that can be chelated into paramagnetic agents that are injected intravenously during MR imaging.

The gadolinium ion is useful as an MRI agent because it has seven unpaired electrons, which is the greatest number of unpaired electron spins possible for an atom.

Gd molecules shorten spin-lattice relaxation time (T1) of voxels in which they are present. As a result, on T1-weighted images they have a brighter signal. This can have a number of utilities:

  • detection of focal lesions, e.g. tumour, abscess, metastasis
  • imaging of vessels in MR angiography
  • characterization of liver lesions, based on enhancement characteristics, e.g. hepatoma and haemangioma

Gd contrast agents are metabolised entirely through the renal system and have a prolonged half-life in renal failure. There is a recognised association between Gd administration and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) in patients with renal failure 2

Physics and Imaging Technology: MRI
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Article information

rID: 18340
Section: Physics
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Gadolinium (Gd)
  • Gadolinium ion

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