What is an abdominal MRI?
In this article, you are going to be educated on what an abdominal MRI scan is including its uses, procedures and how to prepare for it, the results, the risks involved as well as the follow up after the outcome of the procedure has been analyzed.
Abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive procedure where magnets and radio waves are utilized to create cross-sectional images located within the abdominal cavity. It does not use radiation as seen in a CT scan.
These waves have the ability to deeply penetrate the skin and bones so that soft tissues locked up in the abdomen can be properly viewed for abnormalities.
Most times, your doctor may order an abdominal MRI after a blood test, X-ray, or even a CT scan with inconclusive results.
Why is an abdominal MRI performed?
Most abdominal MRIs are done after a physical examination of your abdomen. If your doctor still can’t find what is wrong with you, he or she might order for an MRI, especially if they suspect that you have an abdominal condition. By ordering the scan, they actually want to check blood vessels and blood flow in the abdominal region and, examine the lymph nodes there as well as investigate the cause of your abdominal pains.
Risks associated with an abdominal MRI
So far, none has been reported, but because the MRI machine involves the use of magnets, metal implants in the body might affect the outcome. Hence, you should let your doctor know if you have metallic objects in your body perhaps due to contraceptive measures. In case you have previously retained fragments of metal perhaps due to shrapnel, gunshots wounds, or whatever injuries, kindly let your doctor know before the procedure.
Also, there are certain persons who become extremely nervous and uncomfortable whenever they are in an enclosed place. This condition is called claustrophobia. In this case, they will have to be given an anti-anxiety medication or a medication that will help them relax i.e. a sedative.
How to prepare for an abdominal MRI
If you have undergone any of the surgery involving the implants of artificial heart valves, clips, pins, or screws, plates, staples, and stents, please let your doctor know about it. This is because magnets attract metallic objects.
In instances where you also have a pacemaker, let your doctor be aware. This is because there might be a need for an entirely different examination other than an MRI based on the kind of pacemaker you have. This is pacemakers can be disrupted during the process although some can be reprogrammed in such a way that they are not.
Your doctor might as well need to examine your colon. In this case, you will be given an enema or a laxative so as to empty the content in it. This will likely come with a fast, say, 4 – 6 hours before the procedure begins.
Once it is time to begin the process, you will be given an intravenous injection of a special kind of dye called gadolinium. The dye is administered so as to highlight specific parts in your body that need to be viewed and their images clearly captured. Allergic reactions from the use of this dye are rarely reported. But should you observe one, kindly notify your doctor.
How an MRI is performed
When you are ready for an MRI, the technician in charge will ask you to lie on your back on a bench specially designed for that. The bench can be remotely controlled. You will be given a pillow or a blanket as the case may be. You will be communicated with over a microphone from the control room. If you are in a smart hospital, you may be given a headphone, earplugs, and even have access to view the TV as the test is ongoing.
Your body movements and breath will be controlled at some point in time. This is to allow for clear viewing of the images.
You will not in any way feel a thing during the process as the radio and magnetic frequencies are similar to the ones on FM radios. The entire procedure will take between 30 to 90 minutes.
After an MRI
An MRI test does not put your life on hold once you are done with it. You can return to your normal lifestyle.
If the MRI machine is not highly developed, it can take several hours for the images to be created from a film. This is because the MRI images will have to be projected onto a film and this can take some good hours for the film to be developed. More time will equally be needed by the doctor to review and then interpret the images.
MRI results are of two types – Preliminary and comprehensive. The preliminary results are ready within a few days whereas comprehensive results can take more than a week. It is a radiologist that usually examines the images before they are sent to a doctor for further actions.
MRI tests can be carried out for various reasons and abnormal results are based on what has been looked for in the test. Most times, more laboratory tests or a physical examination might have to be done in order to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis.