What Can an Abdominal MRI Diagnose?
Abdominal ultrasound can assess various symptoms associated with the abdominal organs as well as help diagnose certain conditions, including:
- Abdominal tumors
- Liver disease
An abdominal MRI can help determine if an abnormal finding is causing a particular symptom or if it is incidental. It can also provide better detail on imaging findings discovered on ultrasound or CT scans.
MRI may help distinguish benign liver lesions (called hemangiomas) from malignant lesions (called carcinomas). In addition, an MRI can be a follow-up to a CT scan showing an unclear picture of the pancreas to help diagnose pancreatitis (inflammation).
How an Abdominal MRI Is Performed
We will need to know about any medical conditions and prior surgery you have had. Certain body devices or conditions may interfere with the MRI magnets. These include:
- Metal or metal fragments: If you have metal in your body, or metal fragments from an accident, please let us know. If you are a current or former metal worker, you could have small metal fragments in your eyes. To check, we may do an X-ray prior to performing the MRI.
- Planted devices: These include pacemakers, defibrillators, aneurysm clips, auditory hearing implants, neurotransmitters, internal wires or electrodes, implanted pumps or ports, surgical mesh, or any coils, stents, or filters. Many newer models of pacemakers and defibrillators won’t affect an MRI.
- Tattoos or piercings: An MRI isn’t possible with permanent piercings or certain types of body or face/makeup tattooing. All jewelry and piercings must be removed prior to the MRI.
The MRI imaging may take 25 to 40 minutes, depending on whether special imaging sequences are needed and whether you will need a contrast dye, called gadolinium. The contrast dye allows for better visualization of tissues. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye, please let us know.
MRI machines use magnets that make a loud, clunking sound. Our technologists will provide you with headphones so you can listen to music to block out the noise. Some patients may even find that they fall asleep. Sudden movements may cause irregularities in the images, so it’s important to remain still during the exam.
Abdominal MRI Scan in Denver
Meet Our Specialists
Kelly McAleese, M.D.
Timothy Colt, M.D.
Barbara Jaegar, M.D.
John Lewin, M.D.
Frequently Asked Questions About Abdominal MRIs
Abdominal MRI is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to generate detailed images of the organs, tissues, and structures within the abdomen.
For the procedure, you will lie down on a table that slides into the MRI machine. In some cases, a contrast material may be used to enhance the visibility of certain organs or tissues. The contrast material is usually injected into a vein in your arm during the scan. During the scan, you will hear loud banging and clicking noises, which are normal. After the procedure, you can resume your normal activities immediately. Once the scan is complete, the radiologist will review the images, and your doctor will review the results of your abdominal MRI with you at a follow-up appointment.
An abdominal MRI scan can detect a wide range of conditions, including:
- Abdominal tumors, both benign and malignant, including liver tumors, pancreatic tumors, kidney tumors, and adrenal gland tumors
- Abdominal abscesses or collections of pus in the abdomen
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Gallbladder disease, including gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder, or tumors of the gallbladder
- Kidney and bladder problems, including cysts, tumors, kidney stones, and bladder tumors
- Vascular abnormalities, such as aneurysms or blockages
- Liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease
- Pancreatic disease, including pancreatic cysts, tumors, and inflammation
- Pelvic abnormalities, including ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and prostate tumors
Abdominal MRI is generally considered safe, but there are some considerations to keep in mind.
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which can be harmful at high doses. Instead, it uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves, considered safe for most people.
However, people with certain types of metal implants, such as pacemakers or aneurysm clips, may not be able to undergo an MRI due to the risk of the metal heating up or moving during the scan. Additionally, people with kidney problems may not be able to receive the contrast dye used in some MRI scans, as it can affect kidney function.
While MRI is generally considered safe, there is a small risk of side effects or complications. Some people may experience claustrophobia or anxiety during the scan, and there is a small risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in some scans.