MRI Contrast Agents

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-1279/2021
  • Departments: Radiology
  • Last Updated: 1 July 2021


This advice sheet has been produced to give you information about MRI Contrast Agents. It is not meant to replace a discussion between you and your doctor.  If after reading it, you require further explanation, please discuss this with the relevant person who has been caring for you.

A contrast agent injection is given during many MRI examinations. For some people it is to highlight an area which is not normally seen clearly on MRI. For other people it will help the doctors be more certain of the results of the scan. The injection is usually given in the arm or the back of the hand by a qualified member of staff.

There are several MRI contrast agents on the market. Hull MRI department uses only the newest products with the best safety record. The one we use will depend on which area of the body we are looking at. We use:-   Clariscan       Gadovist      Prohance          Primovist

The active ingredient in all these contrast agents is Gadolinium

You should inform a member of staff prior to the injection if you:-

  • Have had a previous allergic reaction to an MRI contrast agent
  • Have an allergy such as hay fever or hives
  • Suffer from brain conditions with seizures
  • Are pregnant
  • Are breast feeding
  • Have very poor renal function

There have been a few reports of a condition called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NFS) worldwide associated with MRI contrast agents in patients with very poor renal function. Please tell staff if you have been told you have this condition. We will check your recent kidney function tests to make sure your kidneys work well enough for the injection.

Contrast agents will not affect your ability to drive or use machines.

Like all medicines, contrast agents can cause side effects. Most reactions to contrast agents occur within half an hour of the injection so you will be asked to remain in the department for 30 minutes after the injection. You should inform a member of staff if any of these symptoms occur while you are waiting to leave the department:-

  • Sickness or vomiting,
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Coughing, sneezing or a runny nose
  • Hives (a nettle like rash) itching or redness of the skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain, or palpitations
  • Feeling faint, cold or generally unwell

Reactions to Contrast agents are unusual. Most reactions are slight and can be easily dealt with by the healthcare staff in the department.  Severe reactions to contrast agents leading to cardiac arrest have happened worldwide but they are so rare that there is no data to say how often they may occur.

If you have symptoms later on and normal over the counter remedies do not help, please go to see your GP or walk in centre.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this advice sheet, please do not hesitate to contact the Clinic on telephone number: (01482) 674080

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

QR code to open leaflet