What Is a Pelvic MRI Scan?
An MRI scan
uses magnets and radio waves to capture images inside your body without making
a surgical incision. The scan allows your doctor to see the soft tissues of the
body, such as muscles and organs, without your bones obstructing the view.
A pelvic MRI
scan specifically helps your doctor to see the bones, organs, blood vessels,
and other tissues in your pelvic region — the area between your hips that holds
your reproductive organs, as well as numerous critical muscles. This helps your
doctor inspect potential problems found in other imaging tests, such as X-rays.
They also use pelvic MRI scans to diagnose unexplained hip pain, investigate
the spread of certain cancers, or better understand the conditions causing your
An MRI doesn’t
use radiation, unlike X-rays and CT scans, so it’s considered a safer
alternative, especially for pregnant women or young children.
Why Do I Need a Pelvic MRI
pelvic area holds your reproductive organs, your doctor may order the test for
different reasons depending on if you’re male or female.
A pelvic MRI
scan is a useful test for both sexes if you have:
or trauma in the pelvic area
in the lower abdominal or pelvic region
difficulties urinating or defecating
(or suspected cancer) in your reproductive organs, bladder, rectum, or urinary
your doctor may order a pelvic MRI to further investigate:
or masses in your pelvic area (such as uterine fibroids)
pain in your lower belly or pelvic area
For men, a
pelvic MRI might look into conditions such as:
in the scrotum or testicles, or swelling in that area
will fully explain why they ordered the test and what they will be looking for
before you have your procedure.
What Are the Risks of a
Pelvic MRI Scan?
few risks from an MRI scan because the test doesn’t use radiation.
there are risks for those who have implants containing metal. The magnets used
in an MRI can cause problems with pacemakers or cause implanted screws or pins
to shift in the body. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following
plates or screws from orthopedic surgeries
clips from aneurysm surgery
or other metal fragments
complication that can also arise is an allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
The most common type of contrast dye is gadolinium. However, the Radiological Society of North
states that these allergic reactions are often mild and easily controlled by
medication. Women are advised not to breast-feed their children 24 to 48 hours
after they have been given contrast dye.
claustrophobic or have a hard time in enclosed spaces, you may feel
uncomfortable while in the MRI machine. However, there’s nothing to fear. Your
doctor may prescribe antianxiety medication to help with your discomfort. In
some cases, your doctor can also sedate you.
How Do I Prepare for a
Pelvic MRI Scan?
test, tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker or any other type of metal
implanted in your body. Depending on your type of pacemaker, your doctor may
suggest another method for inspecting your pelvic area, such as a CT scan. Some
pacemaker models can be reprogrammed before an MRI so they don’t experience a
disruption during the examination.
the MRI uses magnets, it can attract metals. Alert your doctor if you have any
type of metal in your body from previous procedures or accidents. You’ll need
to remove any metal from your body, including jewelry and body piercings,
before the test. You’ll change into a hospital gown so that any metal on your
clothing doesn’t affect the test.
examinations inject contrast dye into the bloodstream through an IV line. This
helps provide a clearer image of the blood vessels in that area. The dye — typically
gadolinium — can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. Tell your doctor about
any allergies you may have or if you’ve had an allergic reaction in the past.
cases, you will need to clear your bowels prior to the exam. This may require
you to use laxatives or enemas. You also may need to fast for four to six hours
before the exam. Women may need to have full bladders for this exam, depending
on the purpose of their exam. Be sure to go over the necessary preparations
with your doctor before your scan.
What Is the Procedure for a
Pelvic MRI Scan?
the Mayo Clinic, the magnetic field generated by
the MRI temporarily aligns the water molecules in your body. Radio waves take
these aligned particles and produce faint signals, which the machine then
records as images.
If your test
requires contrast dye, a nurse or doctor will inject it into your bloodstream
through an IV line. You may need to wait for the dye to circulate through your
body before beginning the test.
machine looks like a large metal and plastic doughnut with a bench that slowly
glides you into the center of the opening. As long as you followed your
doctor’s instructions and removed all metal, you’ll be completely safe in and
around the machine.
You will lie
on your back on the table that slides into the machine. The technician may
place small coils around your pelvic region to improve the quality of the scan
images. One of the coils may need to go inside your rectum, if your prostate or
rectum is the center of attention.
receive a pillow or blanket to make you more comfortable as you lay on the
bench. The technician will control the movement of the bench using a remote
control from another room. They’ll be able communicate with you over a
may make some loud whirring and thumping noises as it takes the images. Many
hospitals offer earplugs, while others have televisions or headphones to help
you pass the time.
As the machine
takes pictures, the technician will ask you to hold your breath for a few
seconds. You won’t feel anything during the test, as the magnets and radio
frequencies — those similar to FM radios — can’t be felt.
pelvic MRI lasts 30 to 60 minutes.
What Happens After a Pelvic
pelvic MRI, you’re free to leave the hospital (or imaging center) unless your
doctor tells you otherwise. If you received a sedative, you’ll need to wait to
drive until the medication has fully worn off or have someone drive you home
after the test.
results from an MRI scan may come within a few days, but your comprehensive
results can take up to a week or more.
results are available, your doctor will review them with you and fully explain
the images. They may want to order more tests to make a diagnosis or gather
more information. If your doctor can make a diagnosis from the images, they may
have you start on treatment, if necessary.