Do You Need Contrast Dye For An MRI?

An MRI imaging scan or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan is a test designed to provide detailed pictures of the inside of the body. An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create images of organs, tissues, and other body structures. During this process, at times a contrast dye injection is needed in order to show more information.

When and Why is a Contrast Dye Needed?

Sometimes during an MRI imaging scan, you might need to have an injection of a dye known as contrast. This dye is used to make certain blood vessels or tissues appear more clearly and in better detail. There are many risks involved with contrast dyes, but the doctor will examine you carefully first to determine that you really need to have it for a diagnosis. The contrast dye is typically a colorless solution that the doctor will inject in your arm.

When Can You Get an MRI without Contrast Dye?

This typically depends on the diagnostic information the doctor is trying to obtain. Generally, contrast is not recommended for people with kidney failure or pregnant women. The particular part of the body being scanned might also determine whether the dye will be used or not. In cases of tumors, multiple sclerosis, and other similar conditions, you would need the dye because it makes the areas glow and appear in detail on the scan. With the contrast dye, even the smallest of tumors can be detected.

After surgery, the MRI imaging with contrast dye can tell the difference between a re-tear or post-surgical changes, which will help the doctor determine the next step. An MRI scan is last resolution after an X-Ray and a CT scan, which means the results need to be as detailed as possible. For this to happen, the contrast dye is almost always a necessity. Of course, there are cases that don't need the dye, but the doctor will have to determine when it is not necessary. There is always a chance that the results will not be clear enough to diagnose the problem, and you might need a second scan.

Risks Involved with Contrast Dye

There are certain risks involved the dye, such as a toll on the kidneys, which is why most people shy away from using it. However, there are ways to eliminate the dye from your mainstream after the scan to eliminate it completely. For instance, you should drink plenty of water to flush it out within 48 hours of the scan.

An MRI imaging scan without the contrast dye is possible if the doctor deems it so but in most cases, the dye is needed to give a more accurate result.