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Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI: Overview

 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) creates detailed static structural images of the organs and tissues of the body. Cardiac MRI (aka CMR) aims to capture the condition of the heart and infer its functionality from the visible signs. It is a non-invasive testing method meaning that no instruments are inserted into the body nor surgery is performed, although sometimes a contrast material is injected to enhance the accuracy of the image.

Cardiovascular MRI or CMR sends radio waves to the examined parts of the body and with the help of magnetism a computer builds the images that can be copied on a film. This type of imaging test does not use ionizing radiation and therefore carries no risk of causing cancer and kidney problems. The images created show the heart, the major blood vessels, and also pictures of the beating heart in order to assess its structure and its workings.

CMR can also evaluate the functions and anatomy of the organs of the chest: the lungs and the pericardium (outside lining of the heart).

Cardiac MRI is essential to help cardiologists decide over the best treatment for heart conditions and disorders. Some of the most common conditions that require Cardiovascular MRI are:

  • Coronary heart diseaseCardiac-MRI_Small
  • Heart attack and heart failure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Pericarditis
  • Cardiac tumors

Cardiac MRI works along with X-rays and CT scans to provide a better understanding of heart problems. Sometimes, when invasive procedures are required, particularly those that involve radiation, doctors may perform CMR with a contrast agent that highlights the heart and blood vessels on the resulting MRI images.

Cardiac MRI Procedure

After informing the doctor about past surgeries, and the presence of any metal devices like pacemakers in your body, the radiologist will ask you to lie on a table that is slid inside the magnetic machine. It is important to stay still, because otherwise pictures can come blurred.

Cardiac MRI is painless and carries no known health risks, but you may feel a bit anxious because of the closed space and the clicking machine-like sounds that signal that CMR is in progress.

During the 30-90 minutes it takes to do the Cardiac MRI you are able to talk to the specialist, who is always ready to stop the procedure if you do not feel comfortable.