The pelvis is located between your hips, and below your abdomen. The pelvic region comprises of bones, blood vessels and soft tissues that contain the reproductive organs, muscles and soft tissues. A pelvic MRI scan has many uses, and these differ depending on the sex of the patient, the symptoms they're experiencing, and whether any previous imaging has been inconclusive.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a medical imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create images of the pelvis and adjacent pelvic structures. It is generally safe and non-invasive, and does not use any ionising radiation. Many medical conditions could affect the pelvic area, such as cancer, fractures, endometriosis, and infertility. If your doctor suspects any of these, they may recommend imaging to confirm or deny a diagnosis.
We offer three pelvic MRI scan options:
Musculoskeletal Pelvis MRI, which focuses on the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the pelvis to look for fractures, swelling, degeneration, or muscular problems.
Female Pelvis MRI Scan (Gynaecological), which focuses on the female reproductive organs.
Pelvic MRI Scan, which is a general view of other pelvic organs like the bladder or sigmoid colon, along with an overview of the bones and MSK, or the male pelvis.
This is because the scanning protocols, which are the set of instructions given to the MRI machine and overseen by radiology staff, differ slightly for each of these scan types. Some require contrast dye more often than others or are used to focus on different areas of the pelvis.
We offer separate scans for specific imaging of body areas such as the hip, rectum, gallbladder, urinary tract, small bowel or other areas of the abdomen.
An MRI of the pelvis can help doctors accurately assess what might be causing symptoms such as:
Lumps or masses (which could be fibroids, tumours or cysts)
Pelvic pain or swelling
Problems urinating or defecating, or unusual changes to your toilet habits
A pelvic MRI may also be recommended if you have had an injury to the pelvic area.
In some cases you might need an MRI after a pelvic ultrasound, which does not mean that MRI is better than ultrasound for the pelvis. Ultrasound is usually the first recommended scan as it is less expensive and more widely accessible.
For example, if a pelvic mass is suspected, an ultrasound (usually a transvaginal scan for the female pelvis) may be able to identify a cyst or rule it out. However, if the lump is not a cyst, an MRI might be recommended to find out whether or not it could be malignant (cancer).
MRI also enables imaging across different planes, with different weightings, to give a more detailed investigation, especially if the potential issue is too small to be clearly visible on an ultrasound. MRI is particularly valuable for early imaging and accurate diagnosis of focal lesions and tumours, problems with blood vessels, or cases where bones have blocked the images from prior scans.
A CT scan is significantly faster than MRI, so may be recommended in urgent trauma settings, or if an emergency surgery may be needed, e.g. for acute appendicitis. If a patient has implanted metal or medical devices, they may be unable to undergo an MRI, so a CT may be recommended instead. In cases like this, the small amount of radiation exposure caused by a CT scan is outweighed by the scan's benefits.
If you're wondering what a pelvis MRI scan consists of, it can depend on the reason for your scan and what your referring physician is aiming to find out from the results. The scan can show:
Female reproductive organs (vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries)
Male reproductive organs (e.g. undescended testicle or lumps/swelling in the area)
Blood vessels and lymph nodes in the pelvic area
Soft tissues, including key pelvic floor muscles
Other pelvic organs, including the bladder, sigmoid colon, appendix
A pelvis MRI scan can diagnose medical conditions such as:
Ovarian issues, such as ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, or finding out whether or not an ovarian mass is cancer or not.
Other cancers, such as cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, germ cell tumours, bladder cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and any lymph node involvement.
Bone issues such as fractures, vascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone, resulting in death of bone tissue), or degeneration.
In men, pelvic MRI can look for an undescended testicle, cysts, tumours and assess bladder health.
Magnetic resonance imaging provides highly detailed images which can usually confirm or deny suspected issues that may have been found by physical examination or previous imaging.
An MRI of the pelvis can take up to 60 minutes, depending on the type of scan and whether a contrast agent is required.
Gadolinium contrast material is sometimes used with MR imaging, and is generally administered by IV. Your referring clinician will be able to advise whether a contrast dye is needed for your scan.
In some cases, a contrast dye can create high contrast, resolution and detail in your imaging, to highlight certain features, organs or areas more clearly.
Some people have allergic reactions to gadolinium, so it is important to tell your doctor if you have experienced any adverse side effects before. Severe reactions are rare and can be managed on-site during your scan should they arise. Mild side effects such as a flushed sensation, metallic taste, nausea or headache can be caused by gadolinium.
You'll be provided with any preparation instructions before your scan, but some common preparation questions are as follows:
If your doctor tells you a full bladder is required for your scan, you may be asked not to go to the toilet in the two hours leading up to your scan.
You'll need to remove any metal objects, such as jewellery or clothing with zips. As the name suggests, magnetic resonance imaging uses strong magnets that can attract, heat, or damage metal objects.
You won't need to undress for a pelvic MRI, but you may be asked to wear a hospital gown if your clothing is not compatible with the MRI machine. Any removable devices such as hearing aids should also not be worn.
As your pelvis is located in the middle of your body, it is likely that your whole body will have to go into the MRI machine. For some patients with claustrophobia or anxiety, this can be daunting. We offer a range of scanning centres with different machines, including open MRI scanners that enable you to see the room around you without entering a tunnel scanner. You can filter by open scanner when booking your scan.
Pelvic MRI scans with Scan.com start from £295, and we offer a range of scanning locations that you can compare prices for when you search for a scan.
If you're concerned about pelvic pain or symptoms of pelvic conditions, book a pelvic MRI scan with Scan.com and you'll receive a pre-scan consultation with an experienced clinician. They will be able to make sure you've selected the correct scan for your symptoms, and will be able to explain the results to help you access any necessary onward care.
Choose a body part to learn more about what to expect and how the MRI scanning process works.
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