How does an MRI with Contrast work?

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How does an MRI with Contrast work?

Find Out: How does an MRI with Contrast work? 

Today, while standing in 2022, we all know the value of an MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Test in medical science & healthcare!


It is one of the most advanced & safest medical techniques where strong magnetic fields and radio waves lay used to trace your internal body parts in detail!


Sometimes, the amount of detail your doctor seeks to look at may not pop up in the MRI image normally, and your doctor can predict so! That is why she suggests you pursue an MRI with contrast.

This contrast agent is nothing but a type of MRI dye, called gadolinium-based contrast agents or shortly GBCAs, that assist in offering additional clarity & decipherability to the MRI imaging. Are you aware of it?


There is much more, and to learn it all, you have to hold your seat & keep reading this blog!

When does your doctor prescribe an MRI with contrast?

Your doctors prescribe an MRI with contrast because they aim to acquire an enhanced image quality & an accurate diagnosis of your health condition!

The contrast dye interacts with your body, but that does not mean it shall change the color of your internal organs permanently. It is not the case! What happens is – It temporarily changes the view of imaging modalities & thereafter exits your body through urine.

Not everyone requires it! The usage of contrast dye during an MRI depends on two factors –  First is which health condition your doctors predict & the second is which part of your body they want to assess!

The contrast agents can ensure vivid visibility of health abnormalities like –

  • Tumors and their nature, i.e., whether they are benign or malignant,
  • Inflammation in the Soft Tissues & Blood Vessels,
  • Narrowed Blood Vessels,
  • Cell Damage or Tissue Damage,
  • Multiple Sclerosis, where the sheaths of your nerve cells get impaired,
  • Abnormalities in the blood supply to certain organs,
  • Stroke, Dementia, and Brain Infections.


When your doctor predicts either of these, she may prescribe an MRI with contrast!

What are the merits of contrast in an MRI?

There is no one merit of contrast in an MRI, I must say! Instead, there lay several merits, and they are as follows!

  • The contrast agent in an MRI scan can help detect tiny tumors and their precise location, which cannot be visible otherwise. Thus, your subsequent treatment is likely to be more accurate and early!
  • The contrast agent in an MRI scan can help the radiologist in interpreting the precise stage of cancer. The initial stage where the cancerous cells just start to grow, cannot be seen in a normal MRI scan, but when contrast material lay used, the MRI imaging shall show it all!
  • The contrast agent in an MRI scan can also help identify & evaluate the type of Multiple Sclerosis patient you are. It means the MRI with contrast shall accurately show whether you have primary progressive multiple sclerosis, secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, or clinically isolated syndrome!
  • The contrast agent in an MRI scan can help detect the blood flow in your arteries & veins with dexterity!
  • Above all, the contrast agent in an MRI scan nullifies the requirement of any further MRI or another body scan because of its enhanced image quality. ?Meanwhile, you can grasp an early treatment of your health condition!

How is the contrast dye given during an MRI?


Before you move inside the MRI scanner, the radiologist shall give you the gadolinium-based dye!

Typically, this MRI contrast dye lay administered through intravenous injection into one of your veins! Hereupon, the dye flows into your blood vessels and gets mixed with your bloodstream, reaching the internal body part your doctor sought to highlight in the MRI imaging!

In this regard, the radiologist center may either use a hand injection that holds a needle to push the dye into your vein or an automated injector. This shall vary from one radiology center to another depending on availability & practice!

Is there a special preparation for an MRI with contrast?

Of course, there is!

While the basic MRI preparation, like ditching your accessories, make-up, & deodorants for the day of the test and drinking a lot of clear liquid stands the same, you may have some additional preparations to up-take!

Do you know what they are?

  • An MRI scan with contrast requires you to fast for about six hours before the test. The duration of fasting is, however, not fixed. You have to follow the one your doctor suggests. Your doctor may also ask you to avoid some food for a few days before the test because of their harmful reaction to your body when interacting with the dye, and you need to follow it word by word!
  • An MRI scan with contrast requires you to avoid over-the-counter painkillers and a few more medications before the test. If you have regular medicine may be because of thyroid problems or asthma, do not forget to consult your doctor beforehand!

Are there any side effects?

Alas! There lay a few side effects of gadolinium-based contrast dye, and here they go!

  • Skin irritation, rashes & redness, hives,
  • Sore throat,
  • Fever & Chills,
  • Headache,
  • Dizziness,
  • Nausea or a persistent sensation of vomiting,
  • Swelling near the area of intervention, and so forth!

Relax! These are all mild symptoms and are likely to disappear on their own in 24 hours! It is because the dye is; either absorbed into your body or leaves via urine within a day after your MRI test!

Final Thoughts:


By now, you must have understood how an MRI with contrast works! However, you are yet to note one final thing – that you cannot pursue an MRI-with-contrast without the order & approval of your doctor. A self-referred MRI scan does not allow the indulgence of contrast dye so as to eliminate the possible side effects.

When your doctor prescribes an MRI with contrast, she is aware that it may have some side effects, and she would certainly take corollary steps to make you feel fine!

For more information, connect with us at!

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Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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