MRI Scan of the Abdomen: Purpose, Process, and Outcome

MRI Scan of the Abdomen: Purpose, Process, and Outcome

An abdominal MRI scan is conducted for various purposes. When a physical examination is inconclusive in identifying the issue in your abdominal region, your doctor may request an MRI to gain further insight.


MRI, an acronym for magnetic resonance imaging, is a noninvasive diagnostic modality that utilizes magnets and radio waves to click detailed and accurate images of the internal structures within the body. 

With the help of this technology, cross-sectional images of the abdomen are produced, empowering doctors to gain considerable insight into the tissues and organs for any abnormalities, without needing any surgical intervention.

One of the advantages of MRI lies in its capability to see soft tissues without interference from bones. Unlike other imaging techniques, such as CT scans, MRI does not involve the risk of radiation, which is considered a much safer option than other diagnostic methods.

If a patient has received abnormal or unsatisfactory results from previous tests like X-rays, CT scans, or blood work, the doctor may likely recommend an abdominal MRI scan to collate more detailed information and further evaluate the ailment. This additional imaging can augment the identification and diagnosis of potential underlying causes.

An abdominal MRI scan is conducted for various purposes. When a physical examination is inconclusive in identifying the issue in your abdominal region, your doctor may request an MRI to gain further insight.

Why is an abdominal MRI scan important?

An abdominal MRI can be important from many perspectives as elaborated below:

To examine blood flow: An MRI can be the best diagnostic method to provide detailed and accurate insights about the blood flow within a patient’s abdominal area, helping doctors to assess and view the vascular system.

To evaluate blood vessels: Doctors order abdominal MRI scans to examine the condition of a patient’s blood vessels and investigate any abnormalities or blockages.

To investigate the cause of pain or swelling: If a patient is suffering from inexplicable pain or swelling in the abdominal region, it is an MRI that can help doctors to identify the underlying cause by generating detailed images of the organs and tissues.

To examine lymph nodes: An abdominal MRI is perfect in case of evaluating the condition and potential enlargement of lymph nodes in the stomach area, assisting in the diagnosis of certain ailments or conditions.

So, these are some of the potential reasons why healthcare professionals may order an abdominal MRI scan. The perfect images obtained from the scan can help in making an accurate diagnosis and devising an appropriate treatment plan based on the findings.

Should you be worried about the risks of an MRI?

There is very minimal or no risk involved in the process of an MRI. Barring a few safety measures that need to be maintained during the process, it is more or less considered a safe diagnostic technique. 

Radio waves and magnetism are considered safe: It heartening that no incidents of suffering from side effects have been registered from the use of radio waves and magnets in MRI scans.

Little precautions to be maintained with metallic objects: Since the MRI machine has powerful magnets, the patient needs to inform the consulting doctor about any metal implants. They should also disclose about working in the metal industry, or if they have metal fragments from injuries such as gunshot wounds or shrapnel. Metallic objects can potentially interfere with the magnetic field and that may cause potential harm or jeopardize the process.

Issues due to claustrophobia or discomfort: Many people have claustrophobia and they are wary of confined and enclosed spaces. So such patients may experience discomfort or anxiety inside the confined space of the MRI machine. So, in that case, they should talk to the doctor. The doctor may prescribe some anti-anxiety medications or sedatives to help the patient relax during the scan.

It is worth mentioning that these are very minimal risk factors associated with an MRI scan. The benefits of detailed and precise images of the internal organs accrued from an MRI far outweigh the above-mentioned risks. One can be assured that the technicians, the doctors, and the radiologists will maintain all safety protocols throughout the process. It is only the patient who has to be transparent about any of the issues beforehand. 

Preparing for an abdominal MRI

As the MRI process is based on magnetic fields, metallic objects in the body of a patient may not be conducive. The magnetic nature will likely attract metals. So, it is paramount to inform the doctor if a patient has any previous surgeries with metal implants, such as—

  • Artificial heart valves
  • Clips, pins, or screws
  • Plates
  • Staples
  • Stents, etc

Therefore, a patient must inform the doctor if he or she has a pacemaker before the scan. Looking at the type of pacemaker, the physician may advise an alternative radiological examination, such as an abdominal CT scan. There are also some pacemaker models, which can be reprogrammed to thwart interference during the MRI process.

If there is a need for images of the bowel of a patient, they may be required to undergo a bowel preparation. It is done by using laxatives or enemas before the scan. Moreover, fasting is also involved for a period of four to six hours before the examination.

In some cases, there may be the use of a contrast agent also to obtain more clarity of the images from the MRI. It is mostly a special dye called gadolinium. It helps in highlighting areas of concern. This dye is typically administered through an intravenous (IV) line. Although allergic reactions to the dye are not very common, it is necessary to discuss any concerns or potential allergies with the doctor before receiving the IV.

Lastly, one should never fail to inform the doctor about any metal implants as it may compromise safety during the scan. It is important to divulge every detail to the doctor about metal implants, pacemakers, and any other relevant medical issues. 

Abdominal MRI: The process

The MRI machine is like a cylindrical tube wrapped around by a large magnet. It has an examination table that slowly moves the patient into a large tube-shaped MRI machine.

The patient will have to lie on the back of the table and may be handed a blanket or pillow to ensure comfort. The table will be under the control of a technician, who sits in an adjacent room, using a remote control. There is constant communication between the technician and the patient via a microphone.

During the imaging process, the machine makes loud whirring and thumping noises. So, to ease and lessen these sounds the facility usually provides earplugs, televisions, or headphones to the patient.

One important aspect is that the patient has to remain still throughout the process because MRI machines are highly sensitive to movement. The technician may even ask the patient to hold their breath briefly while clicking pictures. 

One can be assured that the MRI procedure does not entail any physical sensations. The magnets and radio frequencies used in the scanning process are akin to those found in FM radios.


So, the abdominal MRI scan is very safe and crucial in treating ailments of the abdomen. Some patients may fret about the MRI scan Abdomen price, which may be a little costly, being a sophisticated process. However, the MRI scan Abdomen price should not be considered when it comes to the safety and health of an individual.