Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Home Facing Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI scans use radio waves and powerful magnets to take images of organs and structures inside the body by measuring their energy.  Similar to a CT scan, MRI takes several pictures of thin slices of the organ while the patient lies on a table.  Then, a computer combines all of the images and creates a 3-dimensional image of the body.

MRI is often used for people who are allergic to the substance needed for CT scans because a different type of contrast substance is typically used for an MRI scan.  MRI scans do not involve exposure to radiation.

MRI scans take longer than CT scans.  During a traditional MRI, a patient is required to lie motionless in a long cylinder.  Patients who are claustrophobic may need to take a drug to calm their anxiety before entering this type of MRI scanner.  There is a different type of MRI scanner called “open MRI.”  In this type, the sides of the machine are open.  This may be helpful for patients who are fearful of being in a closed space.

In addition, an MRCP can be performed at the time of the MRI for patients who need specific imaging of the bile and pancreatic ducts.






Information provided by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. (“PanCAN”) is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or other health care services. PanCAN may provide information to you about physicians, products, services, clinical trials or treatments related to pancreatic cancer, but PanCAN does not recommend nor endorse any particular health care resource. In addition, please note that any personal information you provide to PanCAN’s associates during telephone and/or email communications may be stored and used to help PanCAN achieve its mission of assisting patients with, and finding cures and treatments for, pancreatic cancer. Stored constituent information may be used to inform PanCAN programs and activities. Information also may be provided in aggregate or limited formats to third parties to guide future pancreatic cancer research and treatment efforts. PanCAN will not provide personal directly identifying information (such as your name or contact information) to such third parties without your prior written consent unless required or permitted by law to do so.

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