MR Enterography

Your doctor has recommended you for magnetic resonance (MR) enterography, which is a means of taking images of the small bowel and the large bowel or colon. Enterography comes from the words "entero," which means intestine or bowel, and "graphy," which means image. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. MR technology allows your physician to evaluate different types of body tissue, as well as distinguish healthy from diseased tissue.

The MR enterography exam involves:

  • Drinking fluid to distend the small bowel
  • A liquid enema for 30 to 45 minutes to distend the colon
  • Use of a contrast agent, called gadolinium, during the scan to make blood vessels more visible on the images
  • An IV of glucagon to slow bowel movement

Our team of expert physicians, nurses and technologists who perform MR enterography is led by Rola Saouaf, MD, Chief of Body MRI at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center.

Before Arriving for Your Procedure

  • You can print and fill out the Enterography Questionnaire before arriving to speed the registration process. You can also print and fill out the MRI Questionnaire and the MRI and Pregnancy form, if applicable, from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.
  • You should not eat or drink anything for eight hours before your exam start time, unless instructed to do so by your physician. Please take any medications as usual.
  • You will be asked to arrive early (90 minutes) for your procedure to allow time to drink a barium liquid.
  • If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai cannot prescribe such medications for you.
  • If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
  • For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • We want to make any time you have to wait as pleasant as possible. Please consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass any time you may have to wait. We are happy to provide CD players for use while you wait and can play music for you while the scan is in progress.
  • Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing.

After Arriving

  • Please tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have, and if you are pregnant or are nursing.
  • You will be asked to complete a questionnaire which will determine if an MRI is safe for you. People with various implants (usually metallic) or with metal in their bodies (including some tattoos) may have difficulty with an MRI, which uses a strong magnetic field. The imaging physician needs to be informed of any of these potential problems.
  • You will be asked questions to verify that the MRI contrast (gadolinium) is safe for you. If you have a history of kidney disease, a blood test may be conducted to ensure you can safely be given gadolinium.  If you have Crohn’s disease, gadolinium helps to show inflammation in the bowel wall and surrounding structures, as well as fistulas (an opening or passage between two organs or an organ and the skin caused by disease or injury).
  • Glucagon is used during the exam to slow your normal bowel movements, which can blur the MR images. Glucagon can worsen glaucoma, some heart rhythm disturbances, and cause difficulty urinating (if you have prostate disease). Please make sure to tell the technologist before the exam if you have any of these conditions.
  • If you have anal fissures or fistulas, the enema may not be administered.
  • Before the start of your procedure, you will be asked to drink a thin flavored barium liquid (Volumen) to distend your bowel.

MR enterography images.

During Your Procedure

  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and an IV will be placed in your arm.
  • You will be asked to lie on the scanning table head-first with your arms at your side.
  • To help relax your small intestine, glucagon will be administered through your IV.
  • You will be asked to turn on your side and you will be given an enema. A balloon that is attached to the enema tip will be inflated to help hold the enema in place. The technologist will open the enema bag and fill your colon with water. You will be asked to hold this inside until the test is complete — approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
  • You will be asked to lie flat on your back.
  • Coils (special devices to improve image quality) in a form like a blanket may be placed on or around your abdomen.
  • The scanning table will slide your whole body into the magnet.
  • Earplugs will be provided to help mask any noise (intermittent humming, clicking, thumping and knocking) and allow you to listen to music.
  • The imaging technologist will inject a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The dye is injected into a vein in your arm and may cause a cool sensation.
  • As pictures are taken, you must hold very still, and in some cases hold your breath up to 25 seconds.
  • The technologist will remove the enema at the end of the exam, which lasts about 30 to 45 minutes, and then you will be taken immediately to the bathroom.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.

After Your Procedure

  • There are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat and drive as normal, although if you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Your films will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.