MRI Abdomen With And Without Contrast

MRI abdomen with and without contrast is commonly done to evaluate abdominal symptoms or imaging findings found on other imaging tests like CT or ultrasound.  The test is more commonly done when there is a focused question rather then general symptoms like with CT.

What is meant by contrast?

MRI contrast is a gadolinium based agent which is injected into the vein.  The MRI contrast can allow certain abnormalities to become more apparent on MRI.

Why is the test done with and without contrast?

MRI with and without contrast means we do part of the test before we inject the gadolinium contrast into the vein and part of it after.  The reason for this is that we get more information about the tissues and organs.   This allows for a more accurate diagnosis.

When do we need contrast for an abdominal MRI?

Contrast for an abdominal MRI is needed for many indications.  Contrast let’s us better see abnormalities in many tissues and organs.

Contrast improves detection of cancers, inflammation, blood supply of organs and blood vessels.

Contrast for abdominal MRI also allows us to make a more accurate diagnosis of any abnormalities we see.

Indications for abdominal MRI

Abdominal MRI is done for a variety of indications ranging from symptoms like abdominal pain, lab abnormalities and imaging findings which are unclear from other tests.

What does an abdominal MRI scan show?

An abdominal MRI shows us all the abdominal organs like the liver, spleen and pancreas.  We can parts of the bowel.  We can see lymph nodes and blood vessels.  We can see part of the spine.

An abdominal MRI will give us a detailed look at the abdominal organs and any abnormalities.  We can see cancers, inflammation, blood supply of organs and blood vessels better after giving contrast.

How long does an MRI of the abdomen take?

It depends on the particular type of abdominal MRI, but generally between 30 and 60 minutes.  This can be longer if another test is combined like MRCP or MRI of the pelvis.

What is MRI with contrast used for?

MRI with contrast is used for better detection and diagnosis of abnormalities in the tissues and organs of the abdomen.

Is CT or MRI better?

The are complementary tests.  That means that each test gives us more information then just one of them.

CT uses radiation to make an image while MRI does not.  MRI may be better for younger patients who need multiple exams over time, like with monitoring for cancer recurrence.

Often CT is done as a starting point for symptoms like abdominal pain.  CT is available 24/7 at many hospitals while MRI is more limited.

CT is quick often taking minutes while MRI tests are considerably longer, taking up to an hour or longer.

MRI is more commonly done for specific reasons like an abnormal finding on the CT although it is also done for symptoms that are thought to arise in the abdomen.

Examples of indications for abdominal MRI can include a renal mass, adrenal mass or pancreatic abnormality which could not be diagnosed on the CT.

Why is Abdominal MRI better then CT for many abnormalities in the abdomen?

This is because MRI of the abdomen gives us a more detailed look at the organs and tissues.

We get to look at the abdomen multiple times using different sequences on MRI.  This means we are looking at tissues and organs in the abdomen in multiple different ways.  Each sequence has an advantage over the other ones with regards to what they highlight.

What is in MRI contrast?

MRI contrast uses gadolinium based agents.  Most of the contrast leaves the body within a day if you have healthy kidneys.

MRI abdomen with and without contrast: summary

MRI abdomen with and without contrast allows a detailed look at the abdominal tissues and organs.  The test is often done with and without contrast because this gives us the most information and allows a more accurate diagnosis. MRIs of the abdomen are more commonly done for specific reasons like an abnormal imaging finding rather then general symptoms like with CT.

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