British Liver Trust

I'm having an MRI WITH CONTRAST next week - what can I expect?

After having hepatitis A, I am coming round slowly, but when I went for the ultrasound scan, the doctor said there was a grey area on my liver, it was inflamed, because of the hep A, but has requested an MRI with contrast, I have no idea what this is.

All the doctor said was, that he thought I might have cysts on my liver and would write to me with the results.

Have any of you nice people had one of these ?

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Hi really pleased you are on the mend, an MRI with contrast means they put a substance in to you and it shows up clearly your liver, hope this helps.

It doesn't hurt either

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The contrast bit is about a dye that is delivered IV usually through the arm. It is painless however some people can witness a warm sensation and/or a weird taste in the mouth. I have had several CAT scans with contrast and have had no rections at all.

Hope this helps.

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I've had loads, all for post HCC liver resection monitoring.

The MRI is quite different to ultrasound and the results will be more detailed. This time you lie flat on a table and your whole body will be manoeuvred inside the MRI machine. Some people find this a bit claustrophobic if the machine is more enclosed than the one you will see on the You Tube video link I'm giving you, I find keeping my eyes shut helps! I also ask for a wedge under my legs so its more comfy lying down for a while as otherwise my back aches. The staff will fit a pad round your abdomen to help with the imaging. The staff will usually fit you with headphones and can talk to you via these and a buzzer for you to hold in case there is anything you need to ask for. You can have radio or music through the headphones if you ask, it helps to distract. The procedure could take around 40 mins.

Before you go into the MRI machine you will have a canula inserted and then during the procedure they will take some images while the dye is flushed through your organs. It helps the radiographers to 'see' the organs better.

It might take a while for the report to be written up afterwards and returned to your specialist (could be weeks if there is nothing urgent). Do you have a follow up appointment to discuss the results or are they just going to write to you?


The contrast material used in MRI's is not a dye, it is gadolinium, which is a heavy metal. It is contraindicated for anyone with any kidney issues, as the material can't be properly excreted. Gadolium traces have been found in brain tissue years later even in people with normal kidney function, but to date no studies have been done to determine risks/safety associated with retaining the metal in tissues. This is an area of medicine that is becoming more controversial, but the patient is always the last to know. I was told by a top radiologist at one of the most respected medical centers in the U.S. to always ask if they can get the information they're looking for without contrast, because very often, they can. The gadolinium contrast helps them see more definition in some tissues, which can be helpful diagnostically when absolutely essential. Google "gadolinium found in brain tissue," and "gadolinium and NSF" to find articles discussing this.

A CT scan uses a contrast dye that is not a heavy metal. A small percentage of people are allergic to the dye and can have a serious reaction, but that's fairly rare. The main issue with CT scans is that they use a hefty dose of radiation - far more than what is used in a regular chest X-ray, for example. There are times when these tests are needed, but they are overused and radiation exposure is cumulative in the body, so make sure your physicians are judicious in their use and that they're absolutely necessary. Often an ultrasound can provide similar information without risks.

An MRI is painless, it just can get challenging to remain completely still for as long as they need you to. I'm not trying to frighten you, but feel it is important for patients to be informed so that they can advocate effectively for their own health. Best of luck, just educate yourself and have a conversation with your doctor to evaluate risk vs. benefit.


When I had my scan had a metallic taste , a warm sensation and the urge to pee😏 stay as still as you can it will be over in no time x


When I had my scan I had metallic taste , a warm feeling spread down my body and the urge to pee😏 stay as still as you can and follow their instructions. It wasn't my favourite scan but not painful and over quite quick x


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