MRI of the abdomen is a painless, noninvasive imaging method that uses magnets and radio waves to create images of internal organs of your body. The magnets and radio waves create cross-sectional pictures of your abdomen, which allows your doctor to detect abnormalities in the tissues and organs without making an incision. As long as MRI does not use radiation, it is considered to be more safe as CT scan.
When may I need MRI of the abdomen?
Doctor will be asking about pain, nausea, vomiting, and many other symptoms related to your abdominal area. Causes of symptoms may originate in different structures and therefore the examination can focus on:
- examination of blood flow
- imaging of your blood vessels
- investigation of the cause of pain or swelling
- imaging the structure, size and location of internal organs
- examination of lymph nodes
Usually, in the hospital you will undergo ultrasonography and/or CT examination. However, these imaging methods may be insufficient and your doctor will send you to the MRI to clarify the suspected diagnosis, which may include:
- tumors in the abdominal organs and tissues
- congenital abnormalities
- traumatic injuries
- a blockage of the bile duct (MRCP examination)
How is the abdominal MRI performed?
During the examination, you will be asked to lie face-up on the scanning table. Lying on the table of the MRI machine, you will then slide into the scanning area. When performing a scan, you will hear the MRI to make a rapid tapping noise. Sometimes, doctors may ask for an injection of contrast into a vein in your arm. To acheive a high quality of the images, you should relax and remain still during the exam. In many centres, patients are offered earplugs or a music headset, sometimes blankets are also available. You will be examined around 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the study.
Are there any risks of the MRI of the abdomen?
For patients with metal implants, an MRI exam is safe in the most cases. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area:
- cochlear (ear) implant
- some types of clips used for brain aneurysms
- some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
- nearly all cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers
In cases you have a tattoo, it is also needed to inform your radiologist. To get to know more about the risks connected with tattoos and MRI, click here.
Also women who are pregnant should avoid having an elective MRI. If you are pregnant and need an MRI, you should be individually evaluated for risk vs. benefit, and should avoid an MRI in the 1st trimester of pregnancy. To read more about risks of the MRI during the pregnancy and breastfeeding click here.