MRI Enterography is a procedure that takes images of the small bowel.

When you arrive for your MRI examination, you will be asked to fill out a safety questionnaire.

You will be given approximately 1.5 litres of water mixed with a mild laxative which needs to be consumed before the scan. This will occur gradually under supervision for 1 hour and allows the MRI scanner to better visualise your small bowel.

Once your small bowel has been filled with the water/laxative fluid, you will be taken through for the MRI scan. A small needle (intravenous cannula) will be placed in your arm to administer a muscle relaxant (Buscopan) and a contrast dye (Gadolinium).

Buscopan relaxes the muscles of your bowel for about 15 minutes which ensures better imaging. Towards the end of the examination, the contrast dye (Gadolinium) is given to enable the doctors to better see the blood flow to the small bowel. You will lie in the scanner with a special coil over your abdomen and pelvis which needs to be in the centre of the magnet. Usually, you will go into the magnet head-first.

During the scan, you will need to be as still as possible. If you experience claustrophobia (fear of small places), please discuss this with us before your scan. If sedation (medication to relax you) is required, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

MRI scanners make a loud knocking sound while the images are developed. To reduce the impact of the noise, you will be offered headphones or earplugs. You will also be offered a buzzer to press if you want to talk to the technologist at any time during the scan.

Risks / Side Effects

As part of the MRI examination, you will have an injection of a contrast agent (dye) known as Gadolinium. This medication is administered intravenously (injection into vein) through a needle. Overall MRI contrast injection is a safe procedure. Occasionally patients feel a little nauseous but this only lasts momentarily. More serious allergic type reactions, although possible, are extremely rare. The staff in the MRI department are fully trained to deal with such a reaction should it occur.

The mixture of water and sorbitol you need to drink for the procedure may cause diarrhoea which can last for the rest of the day, so it’s recommended you have the day off of work. Possible side effects of Buscopan include dry mouth, blurred vision, itchiness, drowsiness and increased pulse rate. If you experience any of these, they should pass quickly. Rarely, it can cause an inability to pass urine. In patients with untreated or unknown glaucoma, it may cause a red, swollen eye. If you experience pain in the eye or deteriorating vision, please go to an emergency department.

Before your Scan

When making the appointment, you will be instructed to fast (not eat or drink anything) for 6 hours before your appointment. This will ensure your small bowel is empty for the examination. You will be asked to arrive 1 hour before you are due on the MRI scanner so that we can prepare you for the examination.

Because MRI uses large and strong magnets to create images, it is important that jewellery such as watches, chains, earrings and other metallic items such as eye-glasses are removed before the scan. You may also be asked to change into an examination gown for your safety and to make sure your clothing does not affect the images and diagnostic quality of the scan.


In total the examination will take about 1 ½ hours including the preparation time. The actual MRI scan will be around 30 minutes.

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