Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Abdomen

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test done with a large machine that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the belly. In many cases MRI gives information about structures in the body that cannot be seen as well with an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan.

For an MRI test, you are placed inside the magnet so that your belly is inside the strong magnetic field. MRI can find changes in the structure of organs or other tissues. It also can find tissue damage or disease, such as infection or a tumor. Pictures from an MRI scan are digital images that can be saved and stored on a computer for further study. The images also can be reviewed remotely, such as in a clinic or an operating room. Photographs or films of selected pictures can also be made.

In some cases, contrast material may be used during the MRI scan to show certain structures more clearly in the pictures. The contrast material may be used to check blood flow, find some types of tumors, and show areas of inflammation or infection.

Although MRI is a safe and valuable test for looking at structures and organs inside the body, it is more expensive than other imaging methods and may not be available in all medical centers.

See pictures of a standard MRI machine camera.gif and an open MRI machine camera.gif.

Why It Is Done

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen is done to:

  • Find problems or tumors in the abdominal organs camera.gif and tissues. In some cases, MRI can tell if a tumor is noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
  • Check lower abdominal and pelvic organs for tumors, bleeding, or problems present since birth (congenital abnormalities).
  • Find a blocked tube or stones in the tube that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder (bile duct).
  • Check organs and blood vessels prior to organ transplantation or surgery.

How To Prepare

Before your MRI test, tell your doctor and the MRI technologist if you:

  • Are allergic to any medicines. The contrast material used for MRI does not contain iodine. If you know that you are allergic to the contrast material used for the MRI, tell your doctor before having another test.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Have any metal implanted in your body. This helps your doctor know if the test is safe for you. Tell your doctor if you have:
    • Heart and blood vessel devices such as a coronary artery stent, pacemaker, ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), or metal heart valve.
    • Metal pins, clips, or metal parts in your body, including artificial limbs and dental work or braces.
    • Any other implanted medical device, such as a medicine infusion pump or a cochlear implant.
    • Cosmetic metal implants, such as in your ears, or tattooed eyeliner.
  • Had recent surgery on a blood vessel. In some cases, you may not be able to have the MRI test.
  • Have an intrauterine device (IUD) in place. An IUD may prevent you from having the MRI test done.
  • Become very nervous in confined spaces. You need to lie very still inside the MRI magnet, so you may need medicine to help you relax. Or you may be able to have the test done with open MRI equipment. It is not as confining as standard MRI machines.
  • Have any other health conditions, such as kidney problems or sickle cell anemia, that may prevent you from having an MRI using contrast material.
  • Wear any medicine patches. The MRI may cause a burn at the patch site.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

tea
What you should eat.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
colon xray
Get the facts.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
fruit drinks
Foods that can help you focus.
Sad dog and guacamole
Don't feed this to your dog.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.