MR imaging of the abdomen and pelvis

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Independent Case Review 6 a. Kidney p. Independent Case Review 7 p. Structured Case Review 4: Kidney p. Bowel: IBD p. Optional Time for Self Review of Cases p. Male Pelvis a. Tell the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body. These devices may interfere with the exam or pose a risk.

Many implanted devices will have a pamphlet explaining the MRI risks for that particular device. If you have the pamphlet, bring it to the attention of the scheduler before the exam. MRI cannot be performed without confirmation and documentation of the type of implant and MRI compatibility. You should also bring any pamphlet to your exam in case the radiologist or technologist has any questions.

If there is any question, an x-ray can detect and identify any metal objects. Metal objects used in orthopedic surgery generally pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of a different imaging exam. Tell the technologist or radiologist about any shrapnel, bullets, or other metal that may be in your body. Foreign bodies near and especially lodged in the eyes are very important because they may move or heat up during the scan and cause blindness.

Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during an MRI scan. This is rare. Tooth fillings, braces, eyeshadows and other cosmetics usually are not affected by the magnetic field. However, they may distort images of the facial area or brain. Tell the radiologist about them. Infants and young children usually require sedation or anesthesia to complete an MRI exam without moving. Whether your child requires sedation depends on their age, intellectual development and the type of exam.

Moderate and conscious sedation can be provided at many facilities. A doctor or nurse specializing in sedation or anesthesia for children should be available during the exam for your child's safety. You will be given special instructions for how to prepare your child. Some hospitals employ certified child life specialists to provide children and families with emotional support in medical settings. These specialists have backgrounds in child development, psychology and counseling. They can prepare children for medical imaging procedures. This can help decrease the child's stress and anxiety and even reduce or eliminate the need for sedation.

What’s the Difference Between an MRI and a CT?

Many facilities offer child-friendly imaging suites decorated with murals and lighting that can help entertain and calm pediatric patients. New and improved MRI approaches produce high-quality images and reduce the time children spend in the scanner. This may also eliminate the need for sedation.

For more information, see the Pediatric Sedation page. The traditional MRI unit is a large cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. You will lie on a table that slides into the center of the magnet. Some MRI units, called short-bore systems , are designed so that the magnet does not completely surround you.

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Some newer MRI machines have a larger diameter bore, which can be more comfortable for larger patients or those with claustrophobia. They are especially helpful for examining larger patients or those with claustrophobia. Open MRI units can provide high quality images for many types of exams. Certain exams cannot be performed using open MRI. For more information, consult your radiologist.

Instead, radio waves re-align hydrogen atoms that naturally exist within the body. This does not cause any chemical changes in the tissues. As the hydrogen atoms return to their usual alignment, they emit different amounts of energy depending on the type of body tissue they are in. The scanner captures this energy and creates a picture using this information.

MRI of the Abdomen: About This Test

In most MRI units, the magnetic field is produced by passing an electric current through wire coils. Other coils are located in the machine and, in some cases, are placed around the part of the body being imaged. These coils send and receive radio waves, producing signals that are detected by the machine. The electric current does not come in contact with the patient. A computer processes the signals and creates a series of images, each of which shows a thin slice of the body. These images can be studied from different angles by the radiologist.

What is MRI scanning of the body?

MRI is able to tell the difference between diseased tissue and normal tissue better than x-ray, CT and ultrasound. You will be positioned on the moveable exam table. Straps and bolsters may be used to help you stay still and maintain your position. Devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves may be placed around or next to the area of the body being scanned. MRI exams generally include multiple runs sequences , some of which may last several minutes.

If a contrast material is used, a doctor, nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous catheter IV line into a vein in your hand or arm that will be used to inject the contrast material. You will be placed into the magnet of the MRI unit. The technologist will perform the exam while working at a computer outside of the room.

MRI of the Abdomen/Pelvis

If a contrast material is used during the exam, it will be injected into the intravenous line IV after an initial series of scans. More images will be taken during or following the injection. For more information, see the MR Enterography page. When the exam is complete, you may be asked to wait while the radiologist checks the images in case more are needed. Depending on the type of exam and the equipment used, the entire exam is usually completed in 30 to 50 minutes. Most MRI exams are painless. However, some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still.

Others may feel closed-in claustrophobic while in the MRI scanner. The scanner can be noisy. Sedation may be arranged for anxious patients, but fewer than one in 20 require it.


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  • It is normal for the area of your body being imaged to feel slightly warm. If it bothers you, tell the radiologist or technologist. It is important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being taken. This is typically only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time.