What is Cardiac MRI?
With recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging technology (MRI), we are able to image your heart without exposure to any radiation and in many cases, without the need for injection of any IV contrast agent.
Cardiac MRI captures sharp images of your beating heart, using radiowaves and a series of magnets, while you lie on your back inside a tube like camera. We use the very latest technology with 1.5 and 3 Tesla MRI scanners in our facility.
Images obtained with a MRI scanner, provide your doctor with tremendous amount of detailed information about the structure and function of your heart. Cardiac MRI is used in diagnosis and evaluation of conditions such as coronary artery blockage and heart attacks, congestive heart failure, heart valve problems, disease of the pericardial sac and tumors of the heart.
Cardiac MRI Preparation
A typical cardiac MRI study takes approximately 60-90 minutes. Prior to the study, you will need to fill out a form, asking about your past medical and surgical history and whether or not you have any objects made of metal in your body. These could be objects such as pacemakers, defibrillators, vascular clips in the brain, cochlear implants or pieces of metal in the eye. MRI is not considered safe with the presence of these objects in the body and your doctor may recommend an alternative imaging modality in those cases.
The form will also ask whether or not you become anxious in small spaces, a condition called claustrophobia for which we can provide you with calming medications prior to the test. If you receive this calming medication, you will need to arrange for a family member or a friend to drive you home after the study. We are also able to perform your study in our open MRI scanner, where you wouldn’t feel as anxious about the space around you.
In some cases of cardiac MRI, it is necessary to use a contrast agent to improve the quality of the images and to diagnose certain conditions of the heart. Side effects to these agents are extremely rare but might include an allergic reaction, nausea, headache and dizziness. In patients with severe kidney disease, though very rare, these agents may cause serious side effects and for that reason, we do not administer these agents in these group of patients.