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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.

You may be able to have an MRI with an open machine camera.gif that doesn't enclose your entire body. But open MRI machines aren't available everywhere. The pictures from an open MRI may not be as good as those from a standard 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.
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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.

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