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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What is an MRI

An MRI is a procedure in which high-resolution images are constructed from the measurement of waves that hydrogen atoms emit when they are activated by radio-frequency waves in a magnetic field. The images produced can reveal differences between healthy and unhealthy tissue.


What's involved?

  • Before the procedure: Unless requested by your doctor, there is no specific answer about what to (or not to) eat or drink before the exam. For scans of the abdomen, a regime of no food and drink for several hours prior to the procedure is usually required. It is important to follow instructions as food and food remains can mimic disease when the oral contrast is present. On the day you may also be asked to consume some oral contrast "dye" on the day of the scan. You can drink this while you are waiting in the waiting room
  • During the procedure: in the examination room you will be positioned horizontally (lying down) on the MRI table with your abdomen in the center of a large cylinder. While the machine is scanning you, it will make large click noises, this is due to the fast movement of the magnets, do not worry about this – it is normal
  • After the procedure: If you were administered an injection, you may be required to stay for a short period of time after the scanning is complete
  • Length of procedure: Most MRI exams take between 15 to 45 minutes to complete depending on the body part examine and how many images are needed, although some may take as long as 60 minutes or longer

How will this test help in the management and treatment of your IBD?

There are many reasons why your doctor would order an MRI. Amongst many others include evaluation of small bowel disease looking for strictures (areas of narrowing in the bowel) and abscesses (collection of infections).

MRI – Commonly asked questions

Will I feel claustrophobic during the procedure?

You can let the technician know at any time throughout the procedure if you are feeling trapped or anxious. If you wish to you may bring along some music to listen to, this is one way to help pass time and ease nerves.


If you are interested in other gastrointestinal-focused information and intervention websites developed and hosted at
Swinburne University of Technology,
please go to:

IBSclinic.org.au for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Gastroparesisclinic.org for individuals with Gastroparesis


This website and its content is not intended or recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

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