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Small bowel MRI scan - glucose and water drink? + Positive stories please :)

I've read so many stories on here and other sites talking about awful the drink is beforehand, and how it gives horrible diarrhea afterwards. From what I have read, this seems to be a gloopy mixture, made from mannitol etc. I mentioned to the radiographer that I was worried about this and she told me that that the drink is simply glucose and water. Anyone else have to drink this?

Secondly, I have the weakest bladder ever. Can barely hold 300ml. I am concerned about having to drink 1.5litres beforehand. But the radiographer said that it's mostly absorbed by the bowel. Anyone have any advice about that?

Annd any positive stories about not getting horrible diarrhea before, during or shortly after? I'm so worried about everything and have been putting the test off for months. Now it's going to be the week before christmas! arrgh.


Staff member
The drink I had before my MRI scan was definitely not just glucose and water, but I have had a CT scan since, and that did taste just like sugary water, and some people say this is what they've had for an MRI. If it is the same thing, then honestly it really isn't that bad, I wouldn't say it's my favourite thing to drink in the world, but it definitly wasn't the worst, and it went down pretty fast without any side effects.

You don't have to worry about holding the liquid, the idea is that it coats the small bowel allowing it to show up on the scan clearly, if you can't hold it then that isn't an issue, I was allowed to use the bathroom as much as I wanted before my MRI and my CT.

I didn't have any D from the gloopy prep or from the glucose one. The gloopy one did give me cramps and make me feel icky, but no bathroom emergencies. The glucose one was fine, no side effects from that at all.

You will have an injection in the scanner which slows your bowels down to get good images, don't worry about this, there usually aren't any big side effects. You'll also probably have IV contrast, which gives some people the sensation of having wet themselves, don't worry though, this is normal and you won't actually soil yourself, the feeling goes away pretty quickly.

Also, if the hospital allows, take a good CD with you and give it to the radiographer, they will play it through the headphones they give you and it helps to drown out the noise of the scanner and helps to keep you relaxed.
Hi 😀

I have to agree the drink didn't taste bad at all however for me it had the same effect as bowel prep - i started having explosive D approx 30 mins after MRI and lasted until I was empty... Good luck & hope it goes well for you.
Hi Thunderstorm,

The drink really isn't bad at all. The majority goes into your bowel so don't worry about needing to pee! They also say you can go pee before you have the scan.

I did get a lot of D about 30-40 mins after the scan, but was back home then so it was ok.

The only thing I found difficult was lying on my stomach in the same position for the duration of the scan, about 40 mind. But they do make you as comfortable as they can.

All I thought during it all was that I want answers so I have to do this :)

You will be just fine :)

Yvette x
It looks like every hospital does something different. I've had a few MRI's,at the Royal London Hospital.

Each time I've had a lactoulose solution (imsoluable sugar) and water 1 hour before my MRI, with a contrast dye injection half way through the scan. I didn't have any immediate issue.

Explain your concerns to the imaging nurses. There will probably be at least a dozen abdomen MRI scans the same day as you, everyone will be going through the same thing. It's quite a common thing these days.

Don't delay your test, the sooner you get things checked, the sooner you can get the correct help.

Best of luck. You'll be fine! :)
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I just had a small bowel MRI scan earlier this week, and it was much easier and quicker than I was anticipating!

The solution I had to drink sounds like it may be what you'll have. It was the consistency of water and just had a sweet taste. A lot easier to get down than I was scared it would be. To echo what others have said, I was also told I could use the bathroom at any time before the scan...So that definitely calmed the anxiety about drinking that much liquid!
I felt a little queesy after finishing it, but nothing too bad.

During the test, I was given injections of a contrast agent and Glucagon, which stops all bowel activity. The nurse told me that the Glucagon raises your blood sugar, so it could cause some nausea. The nausea during the test was very slight.

I still had some nausea after the test and was told that it was from the Glucagon. A nurse recommended eating some protein and drinking lots of fluids to flush it out.

It sounds like reactions afterward can vary. I did have some cramping, nausea, lots of belly rumbling for around 7 hours afterward, watery stool once, but it was hours after the test (plenty of time to get home!).

My illness afterward was uncomfortable, but manageable. I was definitely very grateful that I had told work I might not be able to go in after the test. So I would recommend planning on being able to take the whole day off.
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Thanks for the responses guys. You've definitely put my mind to rest.. a bit. I'm still super anxious and will be until it's over. I'm not doing too badly symptom wise at the moment but I get super angry (bowel-wise) when I fast which is one big reason I'm so worried.

Snowiezip + YJ120 - Do you know if it was it the glucose and water solution? Or something else?

Either way I've really annoyed my consultant by faffing around and rearranging so much, so I really just need to just suck it up and deal with it. What will be will be...
Another thing I'd suggest (that I wish I had done!) is to bring a snack with protein and some water for right after so you don't have to wait until you get home. That did seem to relieve some of the nausea, and might be especially helpful since you mentioned that fasting is an extra pain for you.

I hope it goes smoothly!! I'm sure you'll be relieved to have it done!

Yes I had the glucose drink. There's 2 small jugs and I had to constantly sip each one over a 20 minutes period. In the first glass was a drug that attracted the solution to your small bowel. I promise you the drink isn't bad at all.

I was just advised that I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight. Luckily my scan was in the morning. Could you request the first scan if the day and then you're not fasting too long?

Yeah it was a water and glucose mix, I got a big jug and had to drink it over an hour - I was so thirsty after fasting that I happily drank most of it before getting bloated and it helped takeaway the hunger aswell. Do you have an appointment for you MRI? I think it's the unknown which doesn't help but you will be ok - just think of it as a few minutes to get on the right road x


Staff member
I can understand the nerves, these things are not the most fun, but honestly, they aren't that bad as IBD tests go, and they are over within a few hours . Just think, that when you wake up on the day if the scan, that in a few hours from your appointment time, all the drink will be gone, the scan will be over, the results will be getting looked at and a report will be getting worked on, you should be home, and you can have whatever you feel like to eat, and pamper yourself with a nice hot bath and some good music or whatever you find relaxing, your tummy should be starting to settle and you can put it behind you , it will just be another memory. Keep your head up, you can get through this.

Also, on the fasting issue, I only had to fast for 6 hours before my appointment (I had to be at the hospital for 1 , scan was meant to be at 2) so I had a late night snack the night before, just to keep me going. You could call the radiology unit that's doing your scan and ask them if you have that option.
Just got back from mine. DO NOT forget where you parked your vehicle. I just spent 30 minutes walking through one of the worlds most confusing shopping center car park trying to find my motorbike while going through agonizing cramps every minute or so. The ride home was pretty uncomfortable too but at least I had a helmet on to muffle the swearing.
I had a MR enterography yesterday morning. When I got there they said they were going to have me drink three of these drinks, 20 min apart, and I could use the bathroom as much as needed. I only got about 2 down and started to kinda feel sick so they didn't make me drink anymore (I think I was super lucky with nice nurses). The worst part of the drink is they were ice cold, it didn't really taste like anything (to me). They didn't give me diarrhea, but I had a lot of gas afterwards.

They also did an IV contrast and the shot. They told me to drink a lot to flush everything out of my system. I'm feeling fine today so I'm guessing no negative effects for me.

Good luck!
Hey guys, thanks so much for your comments. I did read but didn't log in...

Just thought i'd give an update, and reassure anyone else who is as scared as I was.
I had it this morning. I managed to fast, which I wasn't expecting to manage. They gave me a drink in a 1.5l jug but I only managed to drink 900ml, primarily because I got lost looking for a private toilet. Hahaha. Ended up in 2 different departments!

I did get diarrhea, despite taking two preventative Imodium plus! But nothing major, and I took another one and was fine. It's been a few hours and I'm not feeling toooooo bad, so we'll see..

The scan itself was a little scary being strapped in and all, but wasn't too bad. I took 8mg of valium, so that helped and the radiologist was a hottie. Haha.

Hopefully I should get results soon. I haven't been that bad over the past month or so, so I hope I get an accurate picture of what's been going on this year, but we'll see!

I did it!!! Yay!!! :D

Hope you're all well :)
High five thunderstorm 😀 I'm glad it went well, your right - the being strapped in is a bit scary but you can relax now it's over with and feel a bit chuffed with yourself!! Keep us posted on the results & take care xx
Hi! I've only discovered this forum recently! I have to get an MRI small bowel scan too, and I'm really scared about all the stuff they give you. I'm normally constipated and would go every 3-4 days so I have to take lactulose as it's the only laxative gentle enough that doesn't make me uncomfortable. Whereas others make me need to go urgently but I can't pass anything due to my stool being hard. What does the drink and injection cause? Because I really don't want to experience not being able to go again, it's always been traumatic for me!


Staff member
Hi! I've only discovered this forum recently! I have to get an MRI small bowel scan too, and I'm really scared about all the stuff they give you. I'm normally constipated and would go every 3-4 days so I have to take lactulose as it's the only laxative gentle enough that doesn't make me uncomfortable. Whereas others make me need to go urgently but I can't pass anything due to my stool being hard. What does the drink and injection cause? Because I really don't want to experience not being able to go again, it's always been traumatic for me!
Hi sunflower

Welcome to the forum, I'm glad you've found us and really hope you're finding it useful so far.

I think the MRI contrast drinks vary depending on the country and the hospital, in my hospital, they use a bowel prep drink similar to the ones used in colonoscopies, so a lot of people find it actually makes them need to go to the toilet more rather than constipating them. The injection is usually just a contrast dye which can make you feel a bit funny (I feel a bit sick and flushed) but it only lasts a moment or two. They also inject a medication called buscopan to stop the spasms in your bowel to get clear images. Some people find that they have blurred vision for a little while after having this medication, so you may be asked to wait in the department until you are sure you are OK, again this is a usually short lived side effect and most people can go home within half an hour of the scan ending.

In terms of longer term side effects, I do find the prep drink can make me feel a bit sick and bloated for a few days, but then I have always struggled drinking large amounts of fluids and laxatives in particular. I do know some people who are really not affected by side effects for more than a couple of hours, so its really an individual thing.

I hope this answers your question, please have a look around the forum and feel free to post/ask questions.