An MRI of the abdomen can show a lot of things – from the Liver to the kidneys, and even the Appendix. But what does it really show? Is it just a bunch of pictures, or does it hold some hidden secrets?
Abdominal MRI – Introduction
An abdominal MRI is a diagnostic test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the structures and organs in the abdomen. This includes the liver, pancreas, biliary system, kidneys, and adrenal glands. An abdominal MRI can be used to evaluate symptoms such as pain, vomiting, or unexplained weight loss. It can also be used to guide needle biopsies and other interventions.
How is an Abdominal MRI performed?
This test is performed while you lie on your back on a padded table that slides into the MRI machine. You will be asked to hold very still during the exam, which usually takes 30-60 minutes. Patients are given earplugs or headphones to help reduce the loud noise that is produced by the MRI machine. A contrast material may be injected into your intravenous (IV) line to help improve the quality of the images.
What does an Abdominal MRI show?
An MRI of the abdomen can show a variety of things, including the organs, tissues, and structures in the abdomen. It can be used to look for abnormalities in the abdominal organs, such as tumors or cysts. It can also be used to assess the blood flow to the abdominal organs and to look for abnormalities in the abdominal tissues and structures, such as the intestines or lymph nodes.
Abdominal MRI – Preparation
An abdominal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of your abdominal organs, including your liver, pancreas, kidneys and other structures.
You may be given a contrasting agent intravenously (through an IV) to help provide more-detailed information.
MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays), which makes it a good choice for people who are pregnant or have medical conditions that may be aggravated by exposure to radiation.
Abdominal MRI – Procedure
An abdominal MRI is a diagnostic exam that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of the organs and other structures within your abdomen.
During the procedure, you will lie on your back on a table that slides into the center of the MRI machine. A small device called an coil may be placed around your abdomen to help amplify the signal from the area being imaged.
You will be asked to hold very still during the imaging so that clear pictures can be obtained. The procedure itself is painless, but you may feel uncomfortable lying still for an extended period of time.
The MRI machine will make loud thumping and clicking noises during the exam. You will be given earplugs or headphones to help drown out the noise.
The exam typically takes 30-60 minutes. Once it is completed, you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately.
Abdominal MRI – Risks and Complications
An abdominal MRI is considered a safe medical procedure. However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks and potential complications associated with undergoesing an abdominal MRI. These include:
-Allergic reaction to contrast dye: Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used during an MRI. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itchiness, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you are allergic to contrast dye, your doctor will likely recommend pre-treatment with medication prior to your MRI.
- Claustrophobia: Some patients may experience feelings of claustrophobia or anxiety while inside the MRI machine. If you think you may have this reaction, your doctor may prescribe a sedative for you to take before your MRI. Additionally, earplugs or headphones can be worn during the test to help drown out the noise of the machine.
- Pain: Occasionally, patients may experience pain in the area being imaged during an MRI. This pain is typically muscular in nature and goes away soon after the procedure is completed.
- Kidney problems: In very rare cases, patients with pre-existing kidney problems may experience further kidney damage as a result of Contrast dye used during the MRI procedure.
Abdominal MRI – After the Procedure
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be monitored for any adverse reactions to the contrast material. Once the radiologist has determined it is safe for you to leave, you will be discharged. You should have someone drive you home, as it is not safe for you to drive after receiving contrast material.
Abdominal MRI – Resources
An abdominal MRI is a scan of the belly area that can be used to look for problems with the abdominal organs, such as the liver, pancreas, kidneys, or spleen. It can also be used to look at blood vessels and the lymph nodes in the abdomen.