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MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of the body. A cardiac MRI captures images of the anatomy of the heart in order to diagnose and monitor heart disease.
Your physician may recommend a Cardiac MRI if you have symptoms of heart disease. This test may also be recommended if you have already been diagnosed with heart disease and your physician wants to monitor the function and condition of your heart or used as a tool to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
Unlike conventional X-ray examinations and Computed Tomography (CT) scans, a Cardiac MRI does not utilize ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of the heart and vessels. These images can be used to diagnose any number of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, tumors, inflammation of the heart and more.
If this is your first MRI, you may not be sure what to expect. Not to worry, we are here to guide you every step of the way. You may or may not be given a contrast agent intravenously. Before the procedure, small electrodes will be placed on your chest, which will be attached to an electrocardiogram (ECG). You may also have a breathing belt placed around your upper abdomen and a pulse monitor on your finger. All of these devices will allow the monitoring of your heart rate, breathing and pulse during the exam.
During the exam, you will lie flat on an exam table. You will be asked to hold your breath at various times during the procedure. It is important to follow these instructions during the scan where the surrounding magnetic fields and radio waves will capture images of the heart. It is also important that you remain still while the table slides through the scanner. The MRI machine does generate loud noises as images are captured. All patients are given ear plugs to wear while in the MRI machine. The Technologist will be in the adjacent room operating the scanner, but will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout the exam. The imaging portion of the exam usually takes approximately 60 minutes.
When the MRI is complete, you may be asked to wait until the Radiologist checks the images to ensure no additional images are needed. Once the exam is complete, you may resume your normal activity level. Our Radiologist will interpret your study and send the final report to your physician.
MRI exams are painless. The part that may be uncomfortable is remaining still during the imaging portion of the exam. If you suffer from claustrophobia, talk to your physician to see if medication may be prescribed.