Examining Your Heart with Cardiac MRI
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, also known as a heart MRI, creates detailed images of the heart. Physicians performing a cardiac MRI are specially trained to use MRI technology for capturing three-dimensional videos of the heart, allowing the highest level of detail in evaluating heart structure and function. A wide variety of disorders can be evaluated through cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, such as:
- Scarring from previous heart attacks
- Congestive heart failure
- Congenital heart disease
- Abnormal heart valves
How a cardiac MRI is performed
Prior to a cardiac MRI, you will be asked to complete a standard MRI screening questionnaire to ensure that you are able to safely enter the MRI area. Because MRI imaging uses a very strong magnet, it is important for you to advise the MRI staff if you have any metal embedded in your body, including a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator. Learn more about safety during your MRI.
A cardiac MRI is similar to other types of MRIs. You will be placed on a padded table and positioned for your exam. Depending on the type of exam, an IV (small plastic tube) may be inserted into a vein in your arm so that a contrast agent called “gadolinium” can be given to make certain parts of the heart show up better. Electrodes (sticky pads) will then be placed on your chest, and you will be attached to an electrocardiogram machine (ECG). The ECG permits the MRI machine to take pictures while your heart is beating. It also allows the MRI staff to monitor your heart during the exam. A soft padded coil will be placed at the area where the pictures will be taken. The coil functions as a receiver and helps the MRI system take pictures.
The MRI technologist will talk to you throughout your exam and will give you simple instructions regarding holding your breath or holding still.