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MRI Contrast Agents. Mark D. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D. Contrast Agents. Types Paramagnetic Superparamagnetic Diamagnetic. Comparison with X-ray Contrast. In radiography (barium enema, UGI series, angiography, arthrography, etc.) we image the contrast agent itself.

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MRI Contrast Agents

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Mri contrast agents l.jpg

MRI Contrast Agents

Mark D. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D.

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Contrast Agents

  • Types

    • Paramagnetic

    • Superparamagnetic

    • Diamagnetic

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Comparison with X-ray Contrast

  • In radiography (barium enema, UGI series, angiography, arthrography, etc.) we image the contrast agent itself.

  • In MR we usually do not image the contrast agent itself, but we image the water near the contrast agent that is affected by the contrast agent.

  • Contrast agents change the T1 of the water around them.

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Barium Enema

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Brain CT with contrast

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Brain MR with contrast

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  • Chelate means “claw”

  • Chelates surround an ion an make a cage around it

  • A chelate of gadolinium occupies all available space around the ion except one

  • Water molecules exchange in and out of that one spot. When in that spot, the spins have an extremely short T1. This accelerates the overall relaxation rate, shortening T1.

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Gd chelate

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Free Gd

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  • Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis

    • Most likely caused by free Gd

    • Prevent by screening patients for renal disease

    • Calculate estimated creatinine clearance

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Estimate Creatinine Clearance


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Liver Contrast Agents

Iron Magnetite, superparamagnetic agent

Makes liver black on T2WI, mets show up as bright white.

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Other contrast agents

  • MR colonography

  • Water/saline contrast

  • Negative oral contrast

    • Geritol

    • Blueberry juice, pineapple juice

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MR Colonography

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Figure 3. MR colonography

Geenen, R. W. F. et al. Radiographics 2004;24:e18

Copyright ©Radiological Society of North America, 2004

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Negative contrast agents

  • Used to make stomach contents black in MRCP

  • Geritol, blueberry juice, pineapple juice

    • Iron in Geritol

    • Mn in these juices

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Juices "Contrast agents" – orange juice (OJ), grapefruit juice (GJ), apple juice (AJ), pineapple juice (PJ), milk (M), prune juice (P), cranberry juice (CJ), blueberry and apple juice (BAJ), barium EZ Cat 2% w/v (B), dilute barium (50:50 with water) (DB), concentrated gastrografin (GG), ferumoxsil (F) and water (W).

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