Abdominal MRI Scan: Purpose, Risk and Procedure

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive form of testing that uses magnets and radio waves for creating pictures of the body’s interior. Magnets and radio waves produce transverse images of the abdomen, that allows physicians to check for defects in tissues and organs without making any cuts. (1)

The technology used for MRI enables physicians to examine soft tissue without bone obstructing vision. MRI is radiation-free and is considered a safer alternative to computed tomography.

Your physician may request an abdominal MRI if you have had abnormal results from a previous test like as an X-ray, a computed tomography or a blood test.

Why is an MRI performed?

There are various reasons why abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used. Your physician will order an MRI if he suspects that something is wrong with your abdominal region, but cannot determine what by a physical exam. (1)

Your physician may require you to have an abdominal MRI to:

  • lymph nodes examine
  • blood flow examine
  • blood vessels examine
  • examine the cause of the pain or swelling.

What are the risks of an MRI?

No documented side effects of radio waves and magnetism have occurred so far.

Metal objects are not permitted near MRIs due to the use of magnets. Tell your health care provider if you have metallic implants, have worked in the metallurgical industry or have held back metal fragments from bullet wounds, shrapnel or other injuries.

Claustrophobic or nervous persons in confined spaces may feel uneasy in the machine. Your physician may recommend anti-anxiety medications or sedatives to help you relax.

How do I prepare for an MRI?

Since MRIs use magnets, they may attract metals. Inform your physician if you have a type of metallic implant from previous surgeries, for example:

  • plates
  • staples
  • stents
  • artificial heart valves
  • clips or pin

Before the test, inform your physician if you have any pacemakers. According to the type of pacemaker, your physician may suggest a different radiological examination, such as an abdominal CT scan. Some pacemaker models may be reprogrammed prior to an MRI to ensure they are not disturbed during the exam.

If your physician requires images of your colon, You may need to use it laxatives or enemas before an MRI. You may also have to fast 4 to 6 hours before the examination.

Your physician may require the use of a special colouring agent to highlight areas of concern. The colouring agent (gadolinium) is given intravenously. Although allergic reactions to dye are rare, you should tell your physician about any problems before he gives you an IV.

How is an MRI performed?

An MRI device could carry you to a different dimension. It features a bench that glides slowly through a large tube connected to an opening that looks like a doughnut.

The technician will request that you lie on your back on the bench and provide a blanket or pillow. The technician will control the movement of the bench by means of a remote control from a different room. and You will be contacted by a microphone.

The machine will make hissing and loud noises when taking pictures. Many hospitals provide earplugs, TVs and earphones to help pass the time.

MRI scanners are highly motion sensitive, so it’s important not to move. The technician can also ask you to hold your breath for a couple of seconds while photos are taken.

You’ll feel nothing when you take the test. Magnets and radio frequencies are similar to those in FM radios, and cannot be felt.

The complete process lasts between 30 and 90 minutes.

After an MRI

After the test is completed, you are free to conduct yourself at home and continue your normal daily activities.

If the pictures are projected on the film, it may take hours to obtain the developed film. Your physician will also need some time to examine and interpret the images. More modern machines display images on a computer, giving your physician quick access to them.

Preliminary results of an abdominal MRI may arrive in a few days, but full results may take a week or longer. A radiologist will look at the images and report back to the physician. Your health care provider will meet with you to review your results.

Follow up

There are many different reasons why MRI examinations are ordered. Abnormalities depend on what the test was after. Your physician may request more laboratory tests or physical examinations before they can make a diagnosis.

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