It is estimated up to 9.5 per cent of the global population has some form of liver disease. This can be caused by alcohol, hepatitis, diabetes, or obesity. Some indicators of liver disease can also be signs of liver cancer.
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms consistent with liver damage, or any intense pain in your abdomen your doctor may order a liver MRI.
Follow along to learn about what a liver MRI can show, how to prepare for the procedure and why you may need one in the first place.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the liver will highlight the lobes of the liver as well as some of the surrounding structures in your abdomen. These include:
A liver MRI provides high contrast images of the liver that allows a radiologist to identify abnormalities.
Your doctor may order an MRI scan to identify the cause of various symptoms including:
These can be signs of fatty liver disease or other liver damage. An MRI can be used to identify if this is the cause of your symptoms.
MRI has proven to be one of the most useful tools in early liver cancer detection. The high contrast can show nuanced changes in the liver and identify small growths.
There are some common symptoms to indicate you may have an inflamed liver. If you experience the following:
Abdomen pain associated with the inflamed liver can appear as a dull ache or a stabbing sensation that knocks the wind out of you. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms together, it can be a sign of an inflamed liver. It is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have any abnormal symptoms.
A liver MRI can take approximately 10–30 minutes. The procedure will require you to remain as still as possible. Sudden movement can result in blurred images and the scan will need to be repeated. A contrast IV may need to be administered to highlight certain structures. If this is the case the scan may take a few extra minutes to allow the contrast material to make its way around the body.
Before your liver MRI, you will need to abstain from eating or drinking for approximately 4 hours–the length may differ for each MRI centre.
Upon arrival, you will be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire.
It is important to inform the radiographer if you have any allergies to medication. Since contrast material may be used during the procedure, it's important to note if you have any allergies to it or any other medication. MRI's can affect the settings of a pacemaker or defibrillator. Please inform the staff if you have any of these medical devices. Metal objects can also affect the results of the scan, therefore it's necessary to indicate if you have any artificial metal joints, stints, or screws.
You should also inform the technician if you are pregnant. There has been no link between MRI scans and birth defects. However, it is important to provide a comprehensive medical history to the clinic.
Liver damage is a serious medical concern and requires quick intervention. An MRI can help diagnose potential liver abnormalities. At MRI Plus, you can avoid the wait times of the NHS and book an appointment on a date and time that suites your schedule. With centres located around the UK, we can make your MRI experience as convenient as possible. If you have any additional questions, please contact us, our team is ready to answer any concerns you may have.
Our expert clinical team will guide you through the process, with a 1-1 consultation, referral, and digital imaging report included in the price of your scan booking.