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This website is intended for US residents only.

What imaging techniques are available?

Magnetic resonance imaging, abbreviated to MRI, is one of the imaging methods for this purpose. Another imaging technique that might be used is a computerized tomography or CT scan.

These imaging techniques can be carried out without you having to stay overnight in the hospital, although if you live far from the hospital you may need to arrange to stay somewhere overnight.

Both MRI and CT scans requires the injection of a contrast medium to help differentiate the pituitary tumor from the normal pituitary tissue and other surrounding structures.

Most people tolerate the injection of this contrast medium-well, but you will be asked about your previous history of allergic reactions to ensure that this causes no unwanted effects.

Almost all people with acromegaly confirmed by blood tests will have a pituitary tumor that is detectable on MRI. In most (more than two thirds) people, the tumor will be around 1 cm across or larger (called a macroadenoma), with around one-third of people having a tumor that is less than 1 cm (called a microadenoma).

Magnetic resonance imaging

MRI uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to make pictures of the organs and structures inside your body.

MRI is used to identify normal and diseased tissue and is the best imaging technique that can be used to pinpoint the size and location of a tumor in the pituitary gland.

The information this imaging technique gives can help you and your healthcare team to decide if surgery will be the best acromegaly treatment option for you.


What happens during an MRI?

You will have to lie very still on a bed inside the scanner for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

Some people can feel claustrophobic, especially as the scanner may make a lot of noise.

Speak to your healthcare professional if you have a fear of being in small spaces or are anxious about being inside the scanner. They may be able to recommend something to help you or perhaps use a different imaging technique.

Can MRI be performed on everybody?

MRI can be done in the majority of cases but there are certain people who may not be able to undergo this type of imaging technique. Usually MRI is not done during pregnancy.

Consult with your physician regarding restrictions to this testing.

CT scan

A CT or CAT scan can also be used.

A CT or CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan is another type of imaging technique that can be used in the diagnosis of acromegaly to find out where the tumor is located within the pituitary gland.

CT scans use X-rays rather than radio waves to see the inside of the body.

A CT scan also displays detailed pictures of the body’s internal organs on a computer screen and can also provide useful information about the position and size of the tumor in the pituitary gland.


What happens during the CT scan?

Similar to an MRI, you will have to lie very still on a bed, but for only approximately 10 to 20 minutes. It consists of a ring that you place your head within.

Can CT be performed on everybody?

Unlike an MRI scanner, the CT scanner does not surround your whole body. It might therefore be more comfortable for people who suffer from claustrophobia or who cannot go inside a standard MRI scanner.

When will I get the results?

The results of your scan will need to be examined by a radiologist.

For both CT scans and MRIs, the radiologist will interpret the scan images and send a report to your healthcare professional.


The healthcare professional in charge of your care (usually the endocrinologist) will then discuss the possible treatment options with you.

Consult with your physician regarding restrictions to this testing.

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Please always consult a healthcare professional if you require healthcare advice or if you have any specific concerns regarding your acromegaly, its treatment or side effects. This site is not intended to provide medical advice or substitute a conversation with a healthcare professional. This website has been developed by Ipsen in collaboration with those living with acromegaly and the healthcare professionals who care for them. Ipsen would like to thank everyone for their valuable insights and stories. All names used on this website are not necessarily real names. Visit our website for more information about us, or to contact us directly. Website design and development by Kanga Health Ltd. Website reference April 2020 NON-US-001403_US