MRI of the liver is a non-invasive procedure to get images of the liver and surrounding structures.

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

You will lie in the scanner with a special coil over your lower chest and abdomen which needs to be in the centre of the magnet.  Usually, you will enter the MRI 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.

During the scan, you will be asked to hold your breath while the images are being made. Each breath-hold will last for around 15 seconds.

In some cases, an injection of a contrast dye (Gadolinium) is required. If this is required, the technologist will tell you and explain the process. The contrast dye will be given through a small needle (intravenous cannula) that will be placed in your arm.

Risks / Side Effects

As part of the MRI examination, you may need to 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.

Before your Scan

When making the appointment, you will be told to fast (not eat or drink anything) for 6 hours before your appointment. This is important because your stomach needs to be empty and your biliary system (your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts) need time to fill after digesting food in order for the images to be as clear as possible.

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.


MRI Liver/MRCP takes 20-30 minutes.

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