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Radiographics. 2009 Oct;29(6):1811-25. doi: 10.1148/rg.296095507.

MR imaging of the small bowel.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Cross-sectional imaging techniques are playing an increasing role in the evaluation of suspected small-bowel disorders, and a growing awareness of the risks of ionizing radiation exposure has prompted the exploration of alternative imaging techniques. Advantages of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging include a lack of ionizing radiation, the ability to provide dynamic information regarding bowel distention and motility, improved soft-tissue contrast, and a relatively safe intravenous contrast agent profile. Limitations of MR imaging include cost, imager access, variability in examination quality, and lower spatial and temporal resolution compared with those of computed tomography (CT). MR imaging of the small bowel is indicated for patients with Crohn disease, those for whom exposure to radiation is a concern, those with contraindications to CT, and those with low-grade small-bowel obstruction. MR imaging may be performed with enterography or enteroclysis. In enterography, large volumes of fluid are ingested. Several different contrast agents may be used. These agents are classified according to their signal intensity on T1- and T2-weighted images. In enteroclysis, enteric contrast material is administered through a nasoenteric tube. Crohn disease is the primary indication for MR imaging of the small bowel because many patients require multiple follow-up examinations. Findings suggestive of active inflammation include bowel wall thickening and hyperenhancement, ulcerations, increased mesenteric vascularity, and perienteric inflammation. Complications are well depicted and may include penetrating disease and small-bowel obstruction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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