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MRI of the Abdomen

MRI of the abdomen gives detailed pictures of structures, organs, and other tissues within the belly, infection, and tumors. Detailed MR images allow physicians to better evaluate various parts of the body and certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scanning).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. MR imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed or copied to CD. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (X-rays).

Your doctor may recommend a MRI of the abdomen to find problems or tumors in the abdominal organs and tissues. In some cases, MRI can tell if a tumor is non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). This examination can also check lower abdominal and pelvic organs for tumors, bleeding or problems present since birth (congenital abnormalities).

A MRI of the abdomen is also routinely used to find a blocked tube or stones in the tube that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder (bile duct), as well as check organs and blood vessels prior to organ transplantation or surgery.

MRI examinations may be performed on outpatients or inpatients. You will be positioned on the moveable examination table. Straps and bolsters may be used to help you stay still and maintain the correct position during imaging. Small devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves may be placed around or adjacent to the area of the body being studied.

If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. A saline solution may be used. The solution will drip through the IV to prevent blockage of the IV line until the contrast material is injected. You will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit and the radiologist and technologist will leave the room while the MRI examination is performed. If a contrast material is used during the examination, it will be injected into the intravenous line (IV) after an initial series of scans. Additional series of images will be taken during or following the injection. When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist or radiologist checks the images in case additional images are needed. Your intravenous line will be removed.

MRI exams generally include multiple runs (sequences), some of which may last several minutes. Depending on the type of exam and the equipment used, the entire exam is usually completed in 15 to 45 minutes.

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