MRI with Contrast - What to Expect


When your doctor sends you for an MRI, depending on the symptoms and area of the body, there is a chance you’ll need to get an injection of contrast material, typically gadolinium. The contrast material enhances the appearance of certain details in the MRI study.

An MRI with contrast is conducted to provide a specific look into an area of the body, particularly your blood vessels, to identify damage affecting blood flow often used to identify soft tissue damage, infection, or disease. Gadolinium-based agents help brighten tissues in MRI scans and are considered an important part of getting accurate diagnoses -- for everything from cancer, to heart conditions, to liver disease.

Now that you understand the basics of why and how an MRI with contrast is used, let's discuss what to expect when coming into Sonos Imaging for an MRI with contrast. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging with contrast requires a radiologist to compare images before and after the contrast material (Gadolinium) is injected. Before you go into the MRI machine, we will take a series of pictures, then If you need contrast your technologist will put an IV in your arm before you go into the MRI machine. Contrast is injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm.

Unlike contrast materials used in x-ray exams or computed tomography (CT) scans, gadolinium does not contain iodine and, therefore, rarely causes an allergic reaction or other problem.

Common side effects may include:

  • feeling hot or cold at the injection site; itching, rash, or hives.
  • unusual or unpleasant metallic taste in your mouth;
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • headache, dizziness, and fever.

With normal kidney function, most of the gadolinium is removed from your body in the urine within 24 hours. However, if you have a history of kidney disease, kidney failure, kidney transplant, liver disease, or other conditions, you must inform the MRI technologist and/or radiologist before receiving gadolinium. If your MRI requires the injection of a contrast agent, blood work may need to be done before your MRI to make sure your kidneys are working well.

If you are unsure about the presence of these conditions, please discuss these matters with the MRI technologist or radiologist prior to the MRI examination or contact a Sonos Imaging location near you.  Prattville: (334) 676-4520    Birmingham: (205) 453-7525

At Sonos Imaging, the medical technologists trained specifically to use this MRI machine can offer the most precise image quality and clinical performance without compromising the patient’s comfort. Experience the luxury of advanced technology and comfort during your next MR exam with Sonos Imaging.

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