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Your doctor has ordered an MRI of your pelvis to examine your rectum. The pelvis contains the rectum which is the last part of your colon. It holds waste before it is expelled.

The MRI machine uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves. These produce detailed pictures of the rectum and nearby tissue. No radiation is involved. The magnetic fields can be a problem for those with a metal or implanted electronic device. An MRI scan of the rectum is done if other tests have detected a problem. 

MRI plays an important role in cancer staging and treatment planning. Staging is finding the site and degree of tumor. Tumors can be in one area of normal soft tissue, or they can enter nearby organs. The data from the MRI helps your doctor decide future diagnosis and helps create the best plan of care for you. 

This test will take about 2 hours to complete. 

Before Your MRI

  • Do not eat for 6 hours before MRI.

  • Tell the staff in MRI if you have allergies to medicines or contrast.

  • If you take medicines, you may take them the day of the test.

  • If you wear any kind of medicine patch, remove it before the test. Bring a new patch to put on after the test.

  • If you have a fear of small spaces, talk to your doctor. You can have medicine to help you relax. If you take medicine to help you relax, you will need to have someone drive you home.

  • If you have had an endoscopy or a colonoscopy in the last 8 weeks, call the MRI Screening Office at 

(608) 262-5276.

Day of MRI

  • Take the Atrium Way elevators to the 3rd floor. Check in at the Radiology Reception desk. The MRI area will be informed you have arrived.

  • You will arrive 60 minutes before the MRI. You will be asked questions about your health history. Please bring cards for any implants in your body.

  • Remove all metal items such as a watch, hairpins, bra, jewelry and coins. You will not bring anything into the MRI room. This includes your wallet, purse, cell phone and keys. The changing areas are private and there is a secure locker for your clothes and other items. You should leave valuable items at home. 

  • We will ask you to change into hospital scrubs for this exam. You will want to remove the underwear you plan to wear home. 

  • Once changed, you will receive 2 fleets enemas. You can give them to yourself, or we can give them to you. Cleaning out your rectum just before the MRI lets us see the lining of your rectum. The bathroom is kept for your use during this time.

  • An IV will be started. During the test we will inject two medicines:

    1. Glucagon. This medicine will be given by the staff to slow down movement of the bowel. You will need 2 doses because it does not last long. 

    2. Gadolinium is a contrast medicine. This is used to highlight blood vessels near your bowel.

During the MRI

  • MRI is a long tube-like machine that is open on both ends.

  • Before you are placed on the MRI table, we will have you lie on your left side. A small tube is placed in your rectum. Through this tube you will be given a gel. This reduces the natural movement of your bowel. We will also insert a lubricating gel, this helps the doctors see the walls of your bowel. You will feel rectal pressure as the gel is being inserted.

  • The tube will be removed but the gel will stay in place while pictures are being taken. Some of this gel will leak out during the MRI. There is padding on the table and we will place a pad in your scrub pants. We will make you as comfortable as possible. 

  • During the test you will hear the MRI machine make loud knocking sounds. You will have headphones to block out some of this noise. You will be able to listen to music.

  • Staff will not stay in the room. You will be able to hear and see the staff through the intercom and window. The staff will take pictures and check on you during the test. Tell us if you feel uneasy at any time.

  • If you need the staff, you can squeeze the small ball in your hand. This is given to you before the exam. 

  • At times you will be asked to hold your breath for about 15 to 20 seconds.

  • It is important not to move during the test. It is just like taking a picture with a camera. If you move, the picture will be blurry.

After the MRI

  • The staff will remove your IV.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help your system clear the contrast.

  • Your MRI will be read by a radiologist. The results will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you.

  • If you have any problems or concerns after your test, call your doctor.

Who to Call

If you have any questions or concerns prior to your MRI, call the MRI Screening office at (608) 262-5276.