Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis is fairly rare and it is a condition that primarily occurs in those who have advanced kidney failure. It can occur whether they have had dialysis or not. It is similar to some skin diseases like scleromyxedema and scleroderma as the main characteristics are the darkening or thickening of large patches of skin.
It can affect the internal organs and cause the shortening of tendons and muscles. For some people, the exposure to some gadolinium contrast agents from MRIs or other imaging tests has triggered nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.
Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis progresses quickly after it begins. Signs of this disease include patches of skin (usually on the arms or legs but can occur on other parts of the body, too) that become thick or hard and has a darker than normal pigmentation. The skin may swell and feel tight and there can be sharp pain, itching, or burning. It can even inhibit movement and there can be a loss of flexibility. Some people even get ulcers or blisters in the affected areas.
If the body organs or muscles are involved, there can be bone pain, limited motion of affected limbs, weakness of the muscles, problems with the function of some organs, and blood clots.
Nephrogenic fibrosis is a long term condition and none of the treatments are always successful.
Treatment is focused on reversing progress of the condition or stopping progress. Here are some of the treatments that doctors have had success with:
Some medications can be helpful, too. Pentoxifylline (Pentoxil) helps with the circulation of the blood by making it less thick and sticky. Sodium thiosulfate is a medication that is currently under research and some possible benefits have been found. Imatinib (Gleevec) is also being researched because it has been found to have some results for reducing the tightening and thickening of the skin.