Magnetic Resonance Defecography

What is Magnetic Resonance Defecography?

What is Magnetic Resonance (MR) Defecography?

Magnetic Resonance (MR) Defecography is a noninvasive test used to evaluate rectal function and determine how well the pelvic muscles are working. Unlike conventional X-ray examinations and Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Defecography does not utilize ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of the functions of the rectum during various stages of a bowel movement. These images are used to help determine the cause of many common conditions such as incontinence and constipation.

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Why would my physician recommend Magnetic Resonance Defecography?

Your physician may recommend an MR Defecography if you are having trouble controlling your bladder (incontinence), have difficulty passing stool (constipation) or have symptoms consistent with other rectal abnormalities that may be difficult to diagnose using more traditional tests like a Colonoscopy. 

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What should I expect during a Magnetic Resonance Defecography exam?

During MR Defecography, images are obtained at various stages of a bowel movement (defecation). You will be given specific instructions and asked to drink water thirty minutes prior to the exam. Ultrasound gel will be inserted into your rectum. You may feel mild bloating or cramping at this time. You will lie on an exam table faceup with your knees bent. A device that sends and receives radio waves will be wrapped around your pelvis. The table will slide through the scanner where the surrounding magnetic fields and radio waves will capture images as you contract your muscles as you would during a bowel movement. Images will also be taken while your muscles are relaxed. It is important that you remain still while the table slides through the scanner. The MRI machine does generate loud noises as the images are captured. All patients are given protective ear plugs, or headphones for music. The Technologist will be in the adjacent room operating the scanner, but will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout the exam. 

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What should I expect after a Magnetic Resonance Defecography exam?

After the exam, you may be asked to wait until the Radiologist checks the images to ensure that no additional images are needed. Once the exam is complete, you may resume your normal diet and activity level. 


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Is Magnetic Resonance Defecography painful?

MRI exams are painless. The part that may be uncomfortable is remaining still during the imaging portion of the exam. If you suffer from claustrophobia, talk to your physician to see if medication may be prescribed. 

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How do I schedule a Magnetic Resonance Defecography exam with Fairfax Radiology?

Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

Fax: 703.698.0864

Or click here to make an appointment request

Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

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When are appointments offered for Magnetic Resonance Defecography?

For your convenience, appointments are available at the locations listed above. MR Defecography is offered at Fairfax MRI Center on Tuesday morning and Fairfax MRI and Imaging Center at Tysons on Monday morning/afternoon. Learn more about each location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?