What is an MRI with Contrast

mri machine inner out view

Alliance MRI is a trusted resource for imaging procedures in the Houston area, and our facilities offer state-of-the-art radiology with quality patient care. Our locations offer standard imaging procedures, but also more specialized diagnostic services like MRIs with contrast. But what exactly is an MRI with contrast, and why would you need it over another imaging procedure?

What is the solution?

MRIs with contrast commonly utilize a chemical called gadolinium, or other paramagnetic metal ions. The solution is a dye that is injected into the veins of a patient in order to enhance the imaging scans performed on a patient. The solution reacts with the magnetic waves of an MRI procedure to better highlight the contours and potential issues within your body’s soft tissue.

What are the advantages?

An MRI with contrast allows for the MRI technician to better distinguish any abnormalities from your imaging scan. The importance of an enhanced image is it allows for a more detailed and accurate diagnosis from your doctor in otherwise difficult to observe locations. An MRI with contrast can be recommended after a standard MRI has failed to properly render the necessary quality of imaging, but the procedure is also a good option post-surgery as the clearer, sharper images make it easier to assess recovery. In the case of a tumor or cancer, MRIs with contrast make it significantly easier for a doctor to pinpoint the shape and location of any growth or abnormalities within the body, as well as what stage of growth they are in.

How should I prepare?

An MRI with contrast has more steps of preparation than a standard MRI. Before being placed into the MRI machine, the patient is injected with gadolinium or another type of contrast material via an IV or butterfly needle. The scan will then commence similar to a standard MRI, with a precise magnetic field and radio waves being used to create an image of the affected area.  

When preparing for an MRI with contrast, you will not need to change your diet, medications, or fast, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. You will be screened before the procedure to ensure that there are no existing medical conditions that will affect the scan, and you will need to remove anything metallic before entering the MRI machine. Patients with shellfish and other food allergies do not require premedication prior to the MRI with contrast. Your technician will want you to be as relaxed as possible during the procedure, so be sure to discuss any issues or concerns with your technician or doctor beforehand.

Who’s right for an MRI with Contrast?

An MRI with contrast only occurs when it has been ordered and approved by your doctor. The contrast allows for a more detailed and enhanced image quality of the area in question, giving the radiologist a more accurate and confident diagnosis. MRIs with and without contrast are both effective, so trust your doctor to determine which scan is best for you.

How do I schedule my MRI with contrast?

Be sure to take a look at our accepted insurance page and contact your provider to see if an MRI with contrast is covered. A doctor will typically recommend this procedure rather than a patient setting up a walk-in appointment, so be sure to talk with your primary care physician and see if they think an MRI with contrast is something you could benefit from. Learn more about MRIs and other imaging services with the expert team of technicians and doctors at Alliance MRI, and contact our team today to schedule an appointment at the location nearest you!