What is magnetic resonance (MR) enterography?
Magnetic resonance enterography is an imaging test that lets your doctor see detailed
pictures of your small intestine. It can pinpoint inflammation, bleeding, and other
The test uses a magnetic field to create detailed images of your organs. A computer
analyzes the images. Before the test, oral and IV (intravenous) contrast dyes are
given to highlight the small intestine. A medicine will also be injected to decrease
movement of the bowel which can interfere with the images.
This is not an X-ray. It does not involve any radiation. The oral contrast doesn’t
contain any radioactive material. The images from this test are quite detailed. The
procedure may take around 45 minutes.
Why might I need MR enterography?
This test may help find:
Areas of irritation and swelling
Abscesses, which are pus filled pockets, in the intestinal walls
Small tears in the intestine wall
This test may also help track how well certain treatments are working
MR enterography is often recommended when you have Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease
tends to strike young people, who are at greater risk of problems from repeated radiation
exposure. MR enterography can help avoid unnecessary X-rays. Also, the procedure is
a better test to view soft-tissue problems.
What are the risks of MR enterography?
MR enterography carries some risks:
The magnetic field may change the way any implanted medical devices work.
The intravenous (IV) contrast may damage the kidneys, especially if your kidneys are
not working well.
Some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
There may be other risks, depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure
to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the test.
How do I get ready for MR enterography?
Before having this test, you will likely need to:
Have any blood tests or other tests ordered by your healthcare provider.
Let your healthcare provider know if you are or could be pregnant.
Let your healthcare provider know if you have or use any implanted medical devices,
such as hearing aids. If you do, you may not be able to have this test. For example,
if you have an implanted defibrillator or pacemaker, a cochlear ear implant, a clip
for a brain aneurysm, or a metal coil in your blood vessels, you should not have this
test or enter the MRI area unless your radiologist says it’s OK.
Make sure you understand why you are having this test.
Ask your doctor if you should stop taking any of your regular medicines or supplements.
Ask your doctor when to stop eating and drinking. Also ask if you should avoid certain
foods for this test. You may be asked not to eat or drink for 6 hours before the test.
Let your doctor know about any allergies or other health conditions, such as diabetes
or kidney disease.
Talk with your radiologist or doctor about whether you might need a sedative to relax
during the test.
Don't wear any jewelry or body piercings, or bring any valuable personal items to
Don't carry any metal objects into the exam room. This includes hairpins and metal
If you have sensitive hearing, ask for earplugs to wear during the procedure. The
MRI machine can make loud noises that some people may find disturbing.
If you can go home the same day, make sure you have an adult who can drive you home,
in case you are given a sedative before the procedure.
What happens during MR enterography?
You will change into a gown for the test.
You may be given a sedative to help you relax.
You'll be given water and a contrast material to drink before the test. The test will
start about 45 minutes after you start drinking the water and contrast material.
Medical staff will help position and secure you on a table in the exam room. The more
still you are, the better the images will be.
A nurse will start an IV line so that you can be given fluids and injected contrast
material in addition to the swallowed contrast. You may also be injected with a medicine
that will relax your bowel. This will allow for better images to be obtained.
The MRI machine will scan your body before the contrast dye is injected and afterward.
You will be alone in the room, but you can talk to the people operating the machine.
The machine may make some humming, bumping, or pinging noises as it scans you. This
You will be asked to briefly hold your breath.
You may need to stay in place while the images are reviewed. If necessary, additional
images will be created.
What happens after MR enterography?
Some people have mild nausea, cramping, or diarrhea from the contrast material or
other items injected ingested. Let your doctor know if you have any serious or ongoing
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure