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Small Intestine (Enterography)

Small Intestine (Enterography)

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Small Intestine


Magnetic Resonance Enterography (MRE), also known as MRI small bowel study, is a cutting-edge imaging technique used to evaluate the health of the small intestine. It provides detailed images that help diagnose various conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This article will cover everything you need to know about MRI enterography, including its procedure, benefits, preparation, and comparison with other diagnostic methods.

What is MRI Enterography and How Does It Work?

MRI enterography is a specialized type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) focused on the small intestine. It uses a combination of magnetic fields, radio waves, and a contrast agent to produce detailed images of the intestines. Unlike traditional MRI, MRE specifically targets the bowel, making it highly effective for diagnosing small intestine disorders.

What does MRI for the small intestine detect?

Enterography, including MRI and CT enterography, is an imaging technique that helps visualize the intestines in great detail. It is particularly useful for detecting:

  • Crohn's Disease: A long-term condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. MR enterography helps check for the main disease and any complications.
  • Celiac Disease: An immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. MR enterography is used to evaluate damage in the small intestine caused by gluten.
  • Postoperative Adhesions: Bands of scar tissue that form between abdominal tissues and organs after surgery. MR enterography helps look for this scar tissue.
  • Radiation Enteritis: Inflammation and damage to the intestines caused by radiation therapy for cancer. MR enterography is used to assess this damage.
  • Scleroderma: A group of diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. MR enterography can evaluate how this condition affects the intestines.
  • Small Bowel Malignancies: Cancers that develop in the small intestine. MR enterography helps detect and assess these cancers.
  • Polyposis Syndromes: Conditions characterized by the growth of numerous polyps in the intestine, which can sometimes lead to cancer. MR enterography is used to monitor these polyps.

Understanding the Small Intestine MRI Procedure

The MRI enterography procedure involves several key steps:

  1. Preparation: Patients are usually asked to fast for several hours before the procedure.
  2. Contrast Agent: Drinking an oral contrast agent helps highlight the intestines on the MRI images.
  3. Scanning: The patient lies on an MRI table, and the scanner takes detailed images of the small intestine.
  4. Completion: The procedure typically lasts about 45-60 minutes.

Preparing for Your MRI Enterography: What to Expect

Preparation for MRI enterography involves:

  • Fasting: Usually required for 4-6 hours before the exam.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Medication Review: Informing your doctor about any medications you're taking.
  • Comfortable Clothing: Wearing loose, metal-free clothing.

MRI Enterography Drink: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

The MRI enterography drink is an oral contrast agent that patients consume before the exam. It helps distend the small intestine, making it easier to visualize the bowel walls and detect abnormalities. This drink is crucial for obtaining high-quality images.

MRI Enterography vs. Colonoscopy: Which is Better for Diagnosing Small Intestine Issues?

MRI enterography and colonoscopy are both valuable diagnostic tools, but they serve different purposes:

  • MRI Enterography: Non-invasive, excellent for visualizing the small intestine and detecting inflammation, obstructions, and tumors.
  • Colonoscopy: Invasive, allows direct visualization and biopsy of the colon and lower part of the small intestine.

The choice between the two depends on the specific condition being investigated.

Comparing MRI Enterography and CT Enterography

Both MRI enterography and CT enterography are effective for imaging the small intestine, but they have distinct differences:

  • MRI Enterography: Uses magnetic fields, no radiation, excellent for soft tissue contrast.
  • CT Enterography: Uses X-rays, involves radiation, faster imaging time, better for detecting subtle bowel wall changes.


MRI enterography is a powerful diagnostic tool that may provide detailed insights into the health of the small intestine. By understanding the procedure, preparation, and benefits, patients can make informed decisions about their gastrointestinal health. If you are experiencing unexplained abdominal pain or other gastrointestinal symptoms, consider discussing MRI enterography with your healthcare provider. 

For more information and to book an MRI enterography exam, visit GetScanned today.

Lorea content writter
Reviewed by
Dr. Sachin Shah
Clinical Lead
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