MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An extremely strong magnetic field is created around the area of the body to be scanned. This field switches on and off extremely rapidly. The cells of the body react differently according to their type (e.g. bone will react differently to muscle). This allows many pictures to be taken, each one depicting a 'slice' of the body.


  • Allows soft tissue to be examined more easily than an X-ray
  • Has a higher accuracy than X-ray
  • Does not use radiation


  • Expensive
  • Not as many machines around as X-ray or CT, therefore longer waiting times
  • Cannot be performed if there is any possibility of metal in the patient's body (e.g. if staples were used in a surgical procedure)


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03-01-2012, 09:08 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
(USA) I arrived at the hospital and they went through the usual questionnaire, and then a second battery of questions related to the possibility of any kind of metal being in my body. Apparently, metal in your body and super-strong magnets aren't a good mix.

Then, they had me drink three cups, 30 minutes apart. I believe these were 500 mL Mannitol solution. These tasted just like water - nothing like barium or CT contrast - like water! I couldn't believe it wasn't nasty! Anyway, I drank the first cup, read my book. Drank the second cup, read my book. Then, before the third cup, they had me change into a gown and lay on a gurney. The nurse prepared my IV and I drank the third cup while laying on my right side. She also gave me something intravenously at this point that would "slow down my bowels," which I believe was butylscopolamine. Since the MRI takes more time than a CT, this is supposed to stop the contents of your intestines during the test so the images aren't blurry.

After a half an hour passed, they wheeled me in to the MRI machine and I laid down on the MRI bed, hands above my head, feet toward the MRI machine. They put some kind of "board" on my abdomen and put pillows under my arms so I didn't touch the inside of the machine. The nurse gave me a "ringer" in my hand in case I needed to call them and put headphones on my ears where they played music for me and could talk to me. They could hear me when I spoke aloud too.

The test took about half an hour. The bed moved me to where they needed me in the tube, then the operator would tell me to "breathe deep, blow it out, breathe deep and hold your breath." The machine would make some noises and then they would tell you to "breathe normally." I don't know how many times this happened, but I'd guess 10-15 or so.

Half way through the test, the nurse came back in to give me the contrast intravenously. This was cold in my veins. For a CT scan, it's warm, but this was cold. Then, they took more images.

The test took longer than I expected and the machine was louder than a CT machine. I'm not claustrophobic, but they seemed willing to accommodate me in any way they could if I were. They were very helpful and sympathetic to me as a patient, but as far as tests go, I thought it was very easy -- no prep, the stuff didn't taste nasty, no radiation as far as I know, no cameras up the bum, etc. It was great compared to our other tests!

They took the IV out, I got up, got dressed, and went to work. Whatever they gave me to stop my bowels I did feel "wearing off" throughout the afternoon; however it was not painful and didn't even hold a candle to any of the pains or feelings that are related to your IBD.
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