Developing role of magnetic resonance imaging in Crohn's disease

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Purpose of review

There is growing concern among the medical community that diagnostic radiation adds to the already increased risk of developing lymphoma that may be inherent in, or related to the treatment of, inflammatory bowel disease. This article describes recent progress in magnetic resonance enterography techniques, and examines the role of MRI in the evaluation of Crohn's disease.

Recent findings

Recent advancements in magnetic resonance technology and imaging protocol have made MRI of the small bowel feasible. With improved coils, breath-hold sequences and faster acquisition techniques, MRI capably depicts disease location, extent, and complications. Most of the current literature recognizes MRI as an excellent tool in characterizing transmural and extraluminal changes of Crohn's disease.


The lack of ionizing radiation is the main driving force for MRI of Crohn's disease. This advantage is magnified by the relatively young age of Crohn's disease patients. While intrinsic susceptibility to air and motion may limit its use in some patients, MRI shows promising potential as an alternative to computed tomography in monitoring disease progression or response to therapy.

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