Revision 7 for 'Gadolinium'

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Gadolinium (chemical symbol Gd) is a metallic element that can be chelated into paramagnetic complexes for use as gadolinium contrast media.


Basic chemistry

Gadolinium is a silvery rare earth metal with the atomic number 64 and an atomic weight of 157.25.

Applied chemistry

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.

Gadolinium 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 uses:


Most gadolinium contrast agents are excreted through the renal system and therefore have a prolonged half-life in renal failure.


There is a recognized association between gadolinium administration and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) in patients with renal failure 2. More recently concern has arisen of deposition of gadolinium in various tissues in the body (e.g. dentate nucleus of the cerebellum, globus pallidus) however, the clinical significance of these depositions is still unknown 4

History and etymology

Gadolinium was discovered in 1880 by Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac (1817-1894), a Swiss chemist 1,2. But the element was hamed after the mineral gadolite, itself named after Johan Gadolin (1760-1852) a Finnish chemist, who made his name by being the first to extract the rare earth elements in the 1790s 3.

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