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MRI Small Bowel – Patient Information

This patient information is for patients having a small bowel MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI ) is a painless examination which uses a powerful magnetic field without the use of radiation. This procedure takes approximately one and a half hours.  A liquid mixture is given to you to drink to fill the small bowel so that it can be seen well on the scan.

How do I prepare myself for a small bowel MRI?

You will be asked to have nothing to drink or eat for six hours prior to the appointment. You can only have clear fluids such as water black tea or coffee.  Prior to your scan you will be asked to change in a gown and remove all jewellery . In order to examine the bowel you will be asked to attend your appointment an hour before your scan is due to begin. This is because we ask you to drink a large volume of clear fluid called an “oral contrast medium”.  This drink is called Klean-prep.  For specific information on this please refer to our patient leaflet on Klean-prep.

Before you begin drinking this liquid the radiographer will go through what you can expect from the scan.  During a MRI scan of the small bowel we will also need to give you an MRI dye, or contrast, during the scan itself.  The dye is called Dotarem.  Please refer to our specific patient leaflet on Dotarem for information on this.

You will be asked to drink the clear liquid steadily over 45mins.

What happens during the scan?

You will be asked change into a gown and your belongings will be safely locked away in a patient locker.  The key will stay in the room with you.  You will be taken into the MRI room and asked to lay down on you back so a cannula can be sited in your arm.  This allows the radiographer to inject the MRI dye (dotarem) at the correct time during the scan. This aims to enhance the quality of the images.  You will also be given another injection called Buscopan.  Buscopan aims to relax the small bowel and  the muscles so that, the images will be clearer and sharper. (Please refer to our patient leaflet on Buscopan.) Once you are ready, you will lie on your tummy, on the table, and the radiographer will place a camera on the top of your lower back. While taking the pictures the scanner will be making very loud noises. You will be given some headphones to protect your hearing. The scan involves some breathing instructions which will be a mixture of an automated voice and the radiographer.  Because we need you to hear these instructions we will not be able to play music at the same time. Please refer to the general MRI leaflet for further information.

What are the risks?

Prior to MRI scan you will be asked if you are safe to go in the MRI scanner, only then we will proceed. Patients with cardiac pacemakers, surgical implant’s such as cochlear implants, patients who have been through operations within the last six weeks , cannot be scanned. If you are pregnant, suffer from diabetes or have renal impairment please declare this at the time of booking.

The MRI dye is very safe, however some people may have a mild allergic reaction to the contrast injection.  Before undertaking the scan you will be asked specific questions about allergies to ensure you are safe to have the dye.  Detailed information will be given to you at the time of your scan.  Please do not hesitate to contact the department prior to you scan for further information on this.

How do I get my results?

Once the scan is complete you will be asked to change.  If you are feeling well you are more than welcome to leave straight away, and many people do.  We will always offer you to stay in the department for 20+ mins after the scan to make sure the drink hasn’t caused you any problems, or loose bowel movements.  Once you are happy, and feel well to leave you, you may.  A radiologist will write a report having read your scan and the report will be sent to your referring doctor.