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J Magn Reson Imaging. 2005 Jul;22(1):1-12.

MRI in Crohn's disease.

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Department of Radiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Technological developments have extended the role of MRI in the evaluation of the gastrointestinal tract. The potential of MRI to evaluate disease activity in Crohn's disease has been investigated extensively, as MRI has intrinsic advantages over other techniques, including noninvasiveness and the absence of ionizing radiation. For perianal fistulizing disease MRI has become a mainstay in evaluation of disease, as localization and extent of disease can be very well appreciated using both T2-weighted and T1-weighted sequences, fat suppression, and intravenous contrast medium. Imaging of the small bowel and colon in Crohn's disease is more complicated due to bowel peristalsis and respiratory movement. However, using fast breathhold sequences and intravenous spasmolytic medication, images of good diagnostic quality can be acquired. To obtain sufficiently distended bowel, which in our estimation is a prerequisite for evaluation of the bowel, MR enteroclysis can be performed. However, applicability of different oral contrast media has been studied, as a noninvasive method for bowel distension would be preferable. Abdominal MRI is a valuable imaging technique for evaluation of luminal, transmural, and extraintestinal manifestations of Crohn's disease as degree of disease activity, presence of luminal pathology (e.g., stenoses), and extraintestinal manifestations of disease (e.g., abscesses, fistulas) can be accurately assessed.

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