Information for Patients

CT Enterography (CTE) and MR Enterography (MRE)

New imaging techniques to evaluate the small intestine, including Crohn’s disease.


  • To evaluate known or suspected inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • To determine an etiology for occult gastrointestinal bleeding
  • To assess small bowel lesions

CT enterography shows severe changes from Crohn’s disease in the mid small bowel.


Specialty-trained gastrointestinal radiologists at VCU Medical Center offer CT and MR enterography to evaluate the small intestine. CT and MR enterography are noninvasive, safe procedures that do not require sedation. These special studies use both intravenous and oral contrast to create detailed images of the small bowel.

These procedures use the cross-sectional imaging technology of computed tomography or magnetic resonance to assess the small intestine, the surrounding mesentery, vasculature and other adjacent structures. CTE and MRE are especially well-suited for patients with inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease. A single test may determine the status of the disease and also assess for complications including abscess, fistula, or obstruction. In addition, follow up studies may be performed to assess for response to treatment. These procedures may also be indicated for occult gastrointestinal bleeding or to assess for focal small bowel pathology. The bowel wall is well appreciated with CTE and MRE so that tumors within the intestinal wall may be identified, including lesions that may not be visible within the bowel lumen with standard endoscopy or capsule endoscopy.

The choice of computed tomography or magnetic resonance enterography is best made by the referring clinician in conjunction with the radiologist.

What can i expect when i have a cte or mre?

The patient should have nothing to eat the morning of the procedure or at least 4 hours prior to the procedure. No other preparation is required.

Once the patient arrives he/she will be given several glasses of a low density barium suspension to drink to distend the small bowel. The patient may be asked to drink water as well. The patient drinks over the course of 1-2 hours prior to the procedure. Before scanning, the patient is given an IV through which contrast dye will be injected. Intravenous contrast is injected during the study and is a necessary component of the procedure, as the intravenous contrast highlights the bowel wall and pathologic processes. With CTE, images are acquired in less than 10 minutes. MRE image acquisition may take 30- 45 minutes. After the study is completed the patient may resume their normal diet and activities.

Prior to MRE the patient must be screened for entrance into the MR scanner with a safety checklist, as is used for all MRI and MRA studies to ensure patient safety with the use of a high field strength magnet.

For more information about CT or MR enterography, call the Department of Radiology at (804) 828-4467.

MR enterography shows mild Crohn’s disease involving the terminal ileum.


VCU Department of Radiology Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center