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IBD Diagnosis - CT and MR Enterography

Our specialization in CT and MR enterography sets us apart from many other centers.

Magnetic resonance (MR) enterography is a non-invasive imaging test that uses a magnetic field (not radiation) to obtain detailed pictures of your small bowel to pinpoint areas of inflammation (swelling and irritation), bleeding, and other small bowel conditions.

Computed tomography (CT) enterography is a quick, accurate, and painless noninvasive procedure. This procedure combines x-rays with a contrast material to help our radiologists see the inside of your intestine with great accuracy.

What is MR Enterography (MRE)?

This procedure uses a magnetic field to create detailed images of your organs, instead of an X-ray or CT scan. MR enterography uses an oral contrast dye to highlight the small bowel, also known as the small intestine. It can pinpoint areas of inflammation and other small bowel abnormalities. Our team uses this radiation-free imaging technique to capture images of your small intestine to precisely pinpoint inflammation (swelling and irritation) in your bowel. The images produced by this procedure are very detailed. The procedure may take around 45 minutes to complete. Our doctors may recommend MR enterography to find:

  • Areas of inflammation and swelling
  • Abscesses (pus filled pockets) in the intestinal walls
  • Fistulas (abnormal connections between the intestines and other areas of the body as a result of uncontrolled inflammation)
  • Blockages or obstructions in the bowel

We also use MR Enterography to track how well certain treatments are working.

Benefits of Radiation-Free Imaging

We often recommend MR enterography for patients with Crohn's disease who are likely to need many follow-up imaging tests. Crohn's disease tends to strike young people, who are at particular risk from repeated exposure to X-ray radiation from CT scans. MR enterography helps patients avoid unnecessary doses of radiation.

The procedure captures excellent images of inflammation, bowel obstructions, abscesses, and fistulas, (abnormal connections created by inflammation).

What to Expect During an MR Enterography

You doctor will help you to prepare for this procedure and let you know what to expect. For this procedure:

  • A nurse will give you a gown to change into and wear during the procedure.
  • We'll give you water and a contrast material to drink in advance of the procedure. Your procedure will begin about 45 minutes after you start drinking
  • Our staff will help position and secure you on a table in the exam room. The more still you are, the better the images will be.
  • A nurse may start an IV so that you can be given fluids and injected contrast material in addition to the swallowed contrast.

The MRI machine will scan your body before the contrast dye is injected and afterward. You will be alone in the room, but you can talk to the people operating the machine. The machine may make some humming, bumping, or pinging noises as it scans you. This is normal.

What is CT Enterography?

CT Enterography combines an oral and IV contrast ("dye") with high-resolution x-ray imaging. This test results in a very detailed evaluation of the intestines.

What to Expect During Your CT Enterography

Before/during your procedure, our doctors will:

  • Provide you with three bottles of a special kind of oral contrast for you to drink, over approximately 45 minutes
  • Position you on the CT table and insert an IV catheter into a vein in your arm through which a special dye will be administered
  • Ask to hold your breath during the fast scanning time of typically 20 to 30 seconds

The examination is then complete. The total time for the exam is approximately 1.5 hours, compared to approximately 2 to 3 hours for the traditional barium small bowel series.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment, or to refer a patient to our care, contact our dedicated IBD Coordinator at 717-531-3998 or the Penn State Hershey Careline at 1-800-243-1455.