frequently asked questions
What can you see on a Heart MRI that other methods don’t offer?
It is important that physicians see all aspects of the patient’s cardiovascular system, which includes the heart as well as its arteries, veins, soft tissue and blood vessels. By creating detailed images of the structures within and around the heart, a Heart MRI is very effective in fully
evaluating a patient’s condition.
Does a Heart MRI use a contrast agent?
In some cases a contrast agent is used, in order to get a clearer image of the blood vessels or to obtain more diagnostic information about the heart. This helps physicians to properly diagnose diseases, and allows patients to receive the correct treatment.
What diseases or conditions can a Heart MRI diagnose?
A Heart MRI can determine if heart disease is present, what kind of heart disease is present, and why. This includes heart defects that were present from birth, problems with the heart valves, heart tumors, inflammations, coronary artery abnormalities and various heart muscle diseases.
Who is the ideal candidate for a Heart MRI?
A Heart MRI may be ideal for individuals who experience or have:
How can I prepare for a Heart MRI?
Before the test, inform your doctor if you have a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Depending on your type of pacemaker or ICD, your doctor might recommend another exam. However, some pacemakers or ICD models can be reprogrammed before an MRI so they are not disrupted during the MRI scan.
In many cases, a Heart MRI is safe for patients with metal implants, but you should always notify your physician if you have any type of metal implant, including:
Sometimes a contrast agent is used during a Heart MRI. Although allergic reactions to the contrast agents are rare, tell your doctor if you have any concerns or a history of allergic reactions.
Leave all jewelry and accessories at home, including body piercings, watches, hairpins, eyeglasses, hearing aids and mobile phones, or remove them before the test. They are not allowed in the exam room.
What can I expect during a Heart MRI?
The MRI machine is comprised of a table that slowly moves into a large tunnel that is open at two ends. Electrocardiogram wires will be placed, used to measure your heart beat, and sometimes a blood pressure cuff or finger clip. If a contrast agent is used, it will be injected through a thin needle in your arm. A Heart MRI does not produce any radiation, so a friend or family member is
permitted to go into the Heart MRI exam room with you.
An MR technologist will ask you to lie back on a soft pad on an adjustable bench, which they will control from another room. During the exam, the technologist will be able to communicate with you through a two-way microphone. The technologist will ask you to lie still and hold your breath for short periods of time as pictures and movies of your heart are being taken. The machine will
make loud whirring and thumping noises while capturing the images. These are caused by electric currents that run through wires inside the scanner’s magnetic field, like it happens in an audio loudspeaker. Therefore many hospitals provide earplugs or headphones.
On average, a Heart MRI takes 45 minutes to perform, but the length of time needed varies depending on what the images must show.
What happens after a Heart MRI?
In most cases, no recovery period is necessary, and you may resume your usual activities and diet following the exam.
Your doctor will review and interpret the images from the Heart MRI. Preliminary results may be
ready shortly after the test. Once available, your doctor will share the results with you and discuss
any follow-up steps needed.