Back to all body parts

Small Bowel MRI Scan from £199

MRI scans of the small bowel can help identify inflammation,
bleeding, and other problems.

Book now

Introduction to Small Bowel Health and MRI

Gastrointestinal disorders affect a significant portion of the UK population, with conditions ranging from mild irritations such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to more severe diseases like Crohn's disease. Persistent gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain often necessitate thorough medical examination. In such cases, a Magnetic Resonance Enterography (MRE), a specialized type of MRI, is frequently recommended to investigate the underlying causes of these symptoms.

Understanding Magnetic Resonance Enterography (MRE)

MRE is an advanced imaging technique specifically designed to visualize the small bowel, an area that traditional MRIs struggled to depict clearly. This technique involves the use of a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the small intestines and surrounding structures, enabling doctors to diagnose various gastrointestinal conditions effectively.

The Role of MRE in Gastrointestinal Diagnostics

MRE is particularly useful for assessing the small bowel, which can be a challenge to examine due to its length and the presence of overlapping loops. The procedure provides high-resolution images that can help identify:

  • Inflammation and Infection: Detecting areas of the small bowel that are inflamed or infected.
  • Structural Problems: Identifying abnormalities such as obstructions, kinks, or anatomical anomalies.
  • Tumors and Polyps: Visualizing benign or malignant growths within the small bowel.
  • Bleeding: Locating sources of bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract.

Detailed Procedure of a Small Bowel MRI

The process of undergoing a small bowel MRI can be broken down into several key steps:

  • Preparation: Patients are usually required to fast for at least 4 hours prior to the scan to ensure that the stomach and bowels are empty. They may also need to drink a contrast solution periodically before the scan to help distinguish the bowel from other structures.
  • Contrast Administration: Before the scan, patients might receive a gadolinium-based contrast agent intravenously, which enhances the clarity of the images. Another contrast agent might be used orally to improve the visibility of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Scanning Process: The patient will lie on a motorized table that slides into the MRI scanner. During the scan, it's crucial to remain still to obtain clear and precise images. The technician will guide the patient throughout the process, often through an intercom, advising when to hold breaths to avoid blurring the images.
  • Duration: While the actual scanning time may only last about 30 minutes, the entire procedure including preparation can take up to three hours due to the need for thorough contrast absorption in the intestines.

Potential Diagnoses from a Small Bowel MRI

An MRE can diagnose a variety of conditions, providing valuable insights into:

  • Crohn’s Disease and Other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD): Assessing the extent of inflammation and the presence of complications like fistulas or abscesses.
  • Cancer: Identifying and staging tumors within the small intestines.
  • Intestinal Obstructions: Diagnosing blockages in the intestines that might require surgical intervention.
  • Celiac Disease and Other Malabsorption Disorders: Evaluating structural and functional abnormalities in the small bowel.

Safety and Considerations

MRI scans, including MRE, are generally safe and do not involve radiation, making them suitable for repeated use. However, the use of contrast agents requires caution, especially in patients with kidney impairment, as it can lead to nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in very rare cases.

Cost and Accessibility in the UK

The cost of an MRE scan can vary widely depending on the facility and geographic location within the UK. Private healthcare options might offer quicker access but at a higher cost, potentially ranging from £400 to £700.


Persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that interfere with quality of life warrant detailed investigation using advanced diagnostic tools like MRE. This scan offers a non-invasive method to look inside the small bowel, providing crucial information that can guide effective treatment strategies.

For more information on scheduling a small bowel MRI or to discuss your symptoms with a specialist, please contact our clinic. We are dedicated to providing swift, accurate diagnostic services to help you manage and overcome gastrointestinal disorders.


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.