Body Parts Adrenal Glands

Adrenal Glands MRI

Learn more about the Adrenal Glands body part, what can be detected when it's scanned, and why you might need it scanned.

MRI Guide: Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and are one of the workhorses of our endocrine system. They are responsible for a variety of hormone production, including cortisol also known as the stress hormone. According to research, it is estimated 4 in 100,000 adults are affected by adrenal insufficiency.

Hormones affect various parts of the body. If you are experiencing adrenal issues, the symptoms can present themselves in a multitude of ways. If your doctor suspects an adrenal abnormality, they might order an MRI scan.

What Is An Adrenal MRI?

An MRI or magnetic resonance imaging scan is a diagnostic tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate images of specific structures in the body. The MRI machine will take images–called slices–as it moves across three planes:

  1. Axial - Top to bottom
  2. Coronal - Front to back
  3. Sagittal - Side to side

Each image represents a snapshot of the structures as the machine moves from one side of the plane to the other.

Your adrenal glands are small, triangle-shaped glands located on top of the kidneys and are responsible for hormone production. In an adrenal MRI, the machine produces images of soft adrenal tissue. This allows doctors to identify areas of healthy tissue and unhealthy tissue. In addition to inflammation or potential infection.

Can an Adrenal MRI Detect Cancer?

The are several different tools doctors can use to identify cancerous growths, including:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • PET Scan

All of these tools can be effective in detecting potentially cancerous cells. However, it has been shown that MRI can better distinguish between adrenal cancers and benign tumours.

What Are the Symptoms of Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s disease is also known as adrenal insufficiency. It is an uncommon condition that causes your body to produce too little of certain hormones–primarily cortisol and aldosterone. The symptoms usually develop slowly and include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Extremely low blood sugar
  • Excessive salt or sweet cravings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Depression

Although Addison’s disease is rare if you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms you should consult your doctor.

What Is The Cost of An Adrenal MRI?

The average cost of an MRI in the UK is £363. At, the cost of an MRI is as low as £289. The benefit of choosing a private MRI scan is a reduced wait time. The average wait time for an MRI through the NHS is up to 18 weeks. However, at our centres, you can schedule an appointment in as little as 5 working days.

How to Prepare For An Adrenal MRI?

An MRI is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure. Therefore it requires minimal preparation and after the procedure is complete you can continue your regular daily activities. There are some requirements on the day of your adrenal MRI scan including,

  • Avoid eating or drinking for 3–4 hours – unless otherwise advised by your doctor
  • Fill out a medical history – remember to include if you are pregnant, or have any permanent implant medical devices
  • Have a contrast IV – if required for the type of scan

Those suffering from anxiety about being in a confined space may take a mild sedative to relax. If you have chosen to take a sedative, you will need to arrange transportation after your procedure.

In Summary

The adrenal glands are vital to optimal body function. If your doctor suspects an adrenal abnormality it is important to have it addressed quickly. An MRI can be just the diagnostic tool required.

If you are looking for more information on an adrenal MRI, contact us. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have.



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