Abdominal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Abdominal MRI

Overview & Description

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, also calledMRI,is a noninvasive imaging technique. Somewhat like an x-ray, it is used to view organs, soft tissue,bone, and other internal body structures. In an abdominal MRI, theperson’s body is exposed to radio waves while in a magnetic field.Cross-sectional pictures of the abdomen are produced by the energy given offfrom hydrogen atoms in the body’s cells. A person is not exposed toharmful radiation during this test.

Who is a candidate for the test?

An abdominal MRI may be done to check organs andother tissues in the abdomen, including the:

  • liver
  • spleen
  • pancreas
  • kidneys
  • bladder
  • prostate
  • reproductive organs
  • adrenal glands
  • abdominal blood vessels

This test may be recommended:

  • to look for benign or cancerous tumors or lesions
  • to look for abnormal or damaged organs and other tissues
  • to see how tumors are responding to treatment
  • to clarify the results of other imaging tests, such as ultrasound orabdominal CT scans
  • if other imaging tests or certain contrast agents should not be used

People who have certain medical devices and pieces ofmetal, such as pins or screws in bones or other implants, may not beable to have an MRI.Metal interferes with the magnetic field. Tattoos may cause problems,too. And MRI is not usually done during pregnancy.All of these issues should be discussed with the person’s doctor or aspecialist in imaging techniques called a radiologist.

How is the test performed?

Before the test, the doctor will ask if the person:

  • has any drug allergies or history of allergic reaction to medicines
  • is allergic to shellfish, or foods with added iodine such as table salt
  • has experienced claustrophobia, or anxiety in enclosed spaces. Ifthis is a problem, mild sedating medicine may be given.

A woman will also be asked if she might be pregnant.

As the test begins, the person lies on a flat platform.The platform then slides into a doughnut-shaped magnet where thescanning takes place. To prevent image distortion on the final images,the person must lie very still during the entire test.

Most often, a special dye called a contrast agentis given prior to or during the test. The contrast agent is used to enhanceinternal structures and improve image quality. Most often, this dyeis injected into a vein in the arm.

The scanning process is painless. However, the partof the body being scanned may feel a bit warm. This feeling is harmlessand to be expected. The person hears loud banging and knocking noises duringmany stages of the exam. Earplugs are provided for people who findthe noises disturbing.

After the test, the person is asked to wait until theimages are viewed to see if more images are needed. If the pictureslook OK, the person can leave.

Preparation & Expectations

What is involved in preparation for the test?

A person may be told not to eat or drink for 6 hoursbefore the test. Specific instructions from the imaging center orradiologist may differ, though, and should be followed.

Some people find it helpful to bring earplugs or ask for aspecial set of headphones to wear during the MRI. This muffles clicksand banging noises.

Results and Values

What do the test results mean?

After a radiologist analyzes the test results, a report issent to the person’s doctor. He or she should then discuss the resultswith the person who had the test.

Article type: xmedgeneral