Hidden dangers linked to MRI scans

They're supposed to be the better, safer option for looking inside the body.

Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRIs use no radiation and often provide a sharper, clearer image. But while an MRI is certainly safer, it's not risk-free -- and the latest science reveals a possible problem that the doctor who orders that scan won't warn you about.

MRI scans can leave behind a compound that can linger inside your body, rushing through your arteries until it reaches your brain.

And once it gets into your skull, it doesn't leave.

It's an element called gadolinium, and it's found in one type of the "contrast agents" used in MRI scans.

That's the dye they pump into your veins before a scan.

Once inside your body, the dye acts like an internal highlighter pen, helping to light up whatever it is your doctor hopes to see and expose possible trouble spots.

Docs have assumed the gadolinium is flushed out via the kidneys, and SOME of it certainly is.

But the new report finds that SOME of it lingers behind... in the brain.

The amounts appear to be low -- but, over several scans, you could end up with a secret stash of this element building up inside your skull.

Now, it's not yet clear what that gadolinium does inside the brain. It hasn't been studied extensively enough yet for anyone to say for sure if it's harmless or if it could lead to problems.

But I wouldn't want to be the first to find out, either.

That's not the only risk. In some cases, gadolinium can damage the kidneys, especially if they're already not operating at full strength due to other health conditions.

Of course, if your doctor has any indication that you might have a serious health problem and you need an image, then of course have the procedure.

But you can take these three steps to protect yourself from those risks:

  1. In some cases, your doc might be able to use an ultrasound instead of an MRI. It won't always reveal as much, but it could reveal enough to determine if an MRI is truly necessary.
  2. If you do need the scan, ask your doc if a non-gadolinium dye will work for you.
  3. After any scan such as this one -- especially if you've had several -- work with a holistic medical doctor on natural detoxifying therapies to help rid your body of gadolinium and anything else that might be accumulating.

If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!