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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Abdominal MRI

Abdominal MRI

Alternate Names : MRI, Abdomen, MRI, Abdominal, Abdominal Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Abdominal, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Abdomen

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, also called MRI, 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, the person's body is exposed to radio waves while in a magnetic field. Cross-sectional pictures of the abdomen are produced by the energy given off from hydrogen atoms in the body's cells. A person is not exposed to harmful radiation during this test.

Who is a candidate for the test?

An abdominal MRI may be done to check organs and other 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 or abdominal CT scans
  • if other imaging tests or certain contrast agents should not be used
  • People who have certain medical devices and pieces of metal, such as pins or screws in bones or other implants, may not be able 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 a specialist 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. If this 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 the scanning 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 agent is given prior to or during the test. The contrast agent is used to enhance internal structures and improve image quality. Most often, this dye is injected into a vein in the arm.

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

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


    Next section


    Abdominal MRI: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Francesca Coltrera, BA
    Reviewer: Lanita Dawon, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/20/01

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