About MRI IV Contrast Information
Certain Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI) exams may require the use of a contrast medium, or “dye,” to enhance
visualization of some structures on the scan. Contrast media is usually
given by an intravenous injection; unlike the iodine-based contrast used
with X-ray exams.
Gadolinium is a non-radioactive contrast agent
that is a naturally occurring substance. It is slightly magnetic and used
with MRIs. Gadolinium is rapidly cleared from your body through the
kidneys. Since it is colorless and odorless, you will not notice anything
different in your urine.
Gadolinium can be useful for several types
of scans and situations:
- to make blood vessels stand out from the other tissue
- to differentiate scar tissue from surrounding tissue
- to make tumors more visible
Some abdominal scans also are enhanced by the use of oral contrast. You
may be given a cup of a thin barium solution to drink before you are
positioned on the MRI scan table. Barium is an inert, natural substance
that lines your intestine and makes it appear distinct from the
surrounding tissue and organs in your abdomen.
The decision to give
contrast media will be made by your radiologist, based on your history and
symptoms.What to expect
contrast, you will have an injection that will feel like a blood test.
Most people feel no other sensation from the contrast. Since Gadolinium is
cleared quickly through your kidneys, the scanning will begin during the
injection or shortly afterward.
For oral contrast, you will be
given a glass of a thin barium mixture to drink.Patient
No special preparation is required for contrast
media.Side effects and complications
effects resulting from the Gadolinium injection are rare, but could
include mild headache, lightheadedness or nausea. Fewer than one in 1,000
patients have an allergic reaction to Gadolinium. The most common effects
are hives or shortness of breath. These symptoms can be treated
immediately with medication. Please report any unusual feelings to the
technologist right away.
The barium used for oral contrast
sometimes causes constipation, which can be alleviated or prevented by
drinking plenty of water after your exam.
If you think you might be
pregnant or are currently breastfeeding an infant, please let the
technologist know before your exam begins. Your exam may be modified, or
you may be instructed to express and discard breast milk for a period of
No follow-up care is
necessary following contrast media injection or oral ingestion.