Test Details & Preparation
An MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, is a type of non-invasive test that uses magnets and radio waves to create images of the inside of the body. Unlike a CT scan, an MRI uses no radiation and is considered a safer alternative.
The magnets and radio waves create cross-sectional images of the abdomen, which allow doctors to check for abnormalities in the tissues and organs without making an incision. The technology used in an MRI allows doctors to examine the soft tissues without bones obstructing the view.
Abdominal MRI scans are used for a variety of reasons. Your doctor will order an MRI if he or she suspects something is wrong in your abdominal area but can’t determine what through a physical examination.
Some of the reasons your doctor may want you to undergo an abdominal MRI scan include blocked blood vessels, cancer, disease affecting the organs, pregnancy complications, heart problems, injury and pain.
Before the test, tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker. Depending on your type of pacemaker, your doctor may suggest another method of inspection, such as an abdominal CT scan. Because the MRI uses magnets, it can attract metals. Alert your doctor if you have any type of metal implant from previous surgeries: artificial heart valves, clips, pins, plates, screws, staples, or stents.
An abnormal abdominal MRI scan result may be due to abscess, acute tubular necrosis, cancer, enlarged spleen or liver, gallstones, kidney swelling from the backflow of urine, kidney infection, kidney damage, pancreatic cancer and more.
MRI does not use ionizing radiation. The most common type of contrast (dye) used is gadolinium. It is very safe. Allergic reactions rarely occur. However, gadolinium can be harmful to people with kidney problems who need dialysis. Tell your doctor before the test if you have kidney problems.