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Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2002 Dec;13(6):409-25.

Small bowel magnetic resonance imaging for inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1St├Ądtisches Klinikum Kemperhof, Koblenz, Federal Republic of Germany.


The presented concept of hydro-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using a 2.5% mannitol solution as an orally applicable intraluminal contrast agent is a meaningful, reproducible, and reliable imaging method for the depiction of the small bowel. Especially in patients with Crohn's disease, hydro-MRI is the imaging method of first choice because hydro-MRI offers the advantage of a superior depiction of the inflamed bowel wall and the extramural complications of this disease without radiation exposure. In addition, hydro-MRI allows for a reliable assessment of the inflammatory activity, especially for the differentiation between an active and an inactive (scarred) stenosis. In particular, the mural enhancement, the length as well as the wall thickness of inflamed bowel segments, are considered to be significant MR parameters for the determination of the activity of Crohn's disease. Hydro-MRI of the colon is suitable for the depiction of pathologic changes in ulcerative colitis, but in contrast to Crohn's disease, the assessment of disease activity by hydro-MRI is unreliable in ulcerative colitis, probably because of the low spatial resolution (mucositis in ulcerative colitis vs. transmural inflammation in Crohn's disease). Hydro-MRI does not allow a reliable classification of inflammatory bowel diseases, but in ambiguous cases, hydro-MRI may provide helpful information for the differentiation of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There are no data of larger patient groups published regarding MR findings in inflammatory bowel diseases besides Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, but hydro-MRI is a promising imaging tool for these entities, which should be assessed in additional studies.

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