MRI - Abdomen

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the body uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body.

It may be used to help diagnose or monitor treatment for a variety of conditions within the abdomen and pelvis. It is a commonly employed examination to investigate the liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, ovaries and other organs.

What is MRI scanning of the body?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non invasive medical test that physicians use to diagnose and treat medical conditions.

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. It does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).

Detailed MR images allow physicians to evaluate various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain diseases. 

What are some common uses of the examination?

MR imaging of the body is used to evaluate:

  • organs of the abdomen - including the liver, biliary tract, kidneys, spleen, bowel, pancreas, and adrenal glands.
  • pelvic organs -  including the bladder and the reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries in females.
  • blood vessels (including MR Angiography).
  • lymph nodes.


Physicians use an MR examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as:

  • tumours of the abdomen or pelvis.
  • diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis, as well as abnormalities of the bile ducts and pancreas.
  • inflammatory bowel disease such as crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • malformations of the blood vessels and inflammation of the vessels (vasculitis).
  • On arrival, you will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire. One of our MRI Radiographers will then check through your safety questionnaire with you, and will explain the scan and answer any questions you may have.
    You will be asked to change into a gown and to remove any metal, for example:  jewellery, eyeglasses, watches, wigs, dentures, and hearing aids. An MRI specialist, the Radiographer, will take you into the scanning room where you will lie on the scanner table.
    Devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves may be placed around or adjacent to the area of the body being studied.
    During the scan you may slowly move through the scanner. The scanner can be quite loud due to the powerful magnets it contains. You will hear repetitive clicking, tapping and other loud noises. We will ask you, as a precaution, to wear hearing protection and for some scans you may be able to listen to the radio. During the scan you will be asked to lie very still to produce clear images. The Radiographer operating the scanner can both see and hear you clearly throughout the scan and will speak to you through an intercom connected to the headphones.
    The procedure is painless. You don't feel the magnetic field or radio waves, and there are no moving parts around you. Some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still during MR imaging. Others experience a sense of being closed-in (claustrophobia). You may wish to ask your Physician for a prescription for a mild sedative prior to your scheduled examination, but fewer than one in 20 patients require this.
    In some cases, a contrast dye called gadolinium, may be injected through an intravenous line into a vein in your hand or arm. The contrast is not always needed but can enhance the appearance of certain details. The contrast used during MRI scans is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than the dye used for CT scans.
    If you have not been sedated, no recovery period is necessary. You may resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately following the examination. On very rare occasions, patients experience hives, itchy eyes or other reactions to the contrast dye (if it was used). If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, please notify the Radiographer. A Radiologist or other Physician will be available for immediate assistance.