Pregnancy and MRI
This handout explains the use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in pregnant patients and
what to expect.
While there are no known risks of using
MRI in pregnant patients, it is only used
when needed. MRI is safer for the fetus than
x-rays or a computed tomography (CT)
scan. If you are pregnant and your doctor
wants you to have a MRI scan, there is a
chance that your doctor is concerned about
your health or the health of your baby.
Your doctor may order an MRI if you have
symptoms that need to be treated or your
exam results are unclear and cannot wait
until after the delivery of your baby.
Ultrasound (US) is the scan used most often
during pregnancy and is often used to see
the baby in the womb. If the US does not
give a clear answer, or other parts of your
body need to be viewed, an MRI will likely
MRI does not use x-rays. It uses radio waves
and a magnet to take pictures. Your scan
will focus on a specific body part, such as
the uterus/placenta, the baby in the pelvis,
the brain or the spine. The time it takes to
scan depends on the body part being looked
at; however, for most exams you will need
to lie still for 30-60 minutes.
For some MRI scans, a contrast material
called gadolinium is given to you through an
IV in your arm. While contrast material
helps get better pictures, during pregnancy
the scan will often be done without contrast.
The decision to use contrast is saved for
times when the care of the mother and/or
fetus is in danger if it is not used. These
situations require a radiologist to explain
why they feel it is needed and the potential
risks/benefits of using contrast. After they
talk with you, you will be asked to sign a
consent form. Written consent is only
needed for MRI scans done with contrast.
Your health and safety are important to UW
Health. Please let us know if you have any
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7907.