MRI Small Bowel Scan

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-1298/2021
  • Departments: Radiology
  • Last Updated: 1 July 2021

Radiology, Clinical Support Group

Please read this important information now and then fill in the safety form. Contact us ASAP if you need to give us information or if you need further advice. Our phone number is 01482 674080

What is an MRI scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  An MRI scan uses a very strong magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce pictures of the insides of your body. The pictures will go to a specialist who will write a report to the healthcare professional who sent you to us.

Why do I need an MRI scan of the small bowel?

Your doctor wants us to take detailed pictures of your small bowel.

How do I prepare for the scan?

You must not have any food or drink for 4 hours before the scan.  Please take your medication as normal unless you have been told not to.

You may bring an adult friend or family member through to the scan room if you need their support, but only if they are safe to come in.  They will need to fill out a safety form in the MRI department.

Please arrive at least 1 hour and 15 minutes before your appointment time.

What will happen?

Soon after you arrive, an MRI team member will explain the procedure, check your details and go through your safety form. They will be happy to answer any questions.

You will be asked to drink 4 or 5 glasses of fluid in the hour before your scan.  This is mostly water with a substance to highlight your bowel on the pictures. This may make your bowel movements looser over the next 24 hours.  Toilets are always available.

Shortly before your scan, you will be asked to remove all metal objects apart from wedding rings. You will probably need to change into a hospital gown.

You will have a cannula (a plastic tube) placed in your arm or hand so we can give you injections during the scan.

You will lie down on your back on a movable bed that will bring you to rest with your body at the middle of the scanner. The scanner is open at both ends all of the time.  It is well lit and air-conditioned.  The scanners are very noisy when they are scanning but they do not hurt.  You will be given ear protection for the noise.

During the scan the radiographer will be observing you from the control room and they will talk with you over an intercom in between sections of the scan. You will also have a buzzer to press if you need assistance.  You will be asked to hold your breath sometimes during the examination.

Like a photograph, MRI pictures can be blurred by movement so it is very important to stay still.

The scan will take about 20 minutes. If the fluid has not yet passed far enough through your bowel, you will be asked to wait until it has. It could take up to 2 hours before we can get good pictures so please allow plenty of time for your visit.

What are the injections?

Buscopan prevents your digestion from blurring the pictures. Contrast agent is a clear fluid that makes some parts of your bowel stand out better in the pictures. Please see the attached information on these substances.

Are there any risks?

MRI is considered one of the safest ways of imaging the body because there is no harmful radiation.  A few people have a type of metal object in their body that could harm them in a strong magnetic field.  There is a safety form with this letter.  Please take time to fill it out now.  Most metal in the body is safe for your MRI scan but we will need details to make sure.  If you do not tell us about an implant in advance, you may not be able to have your scan for some days, until checks have been done.

What happens afterwards?

Unless you are told otherwise, you can leave as soon as the cannula has been removed from your arm.  After the scan, you may eat and drink as normal.  Having an MRI scan will not prevent you from driving home.

Your results will go to the health care professional who sent you for the scan.  We never give out results on the day.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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