Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI is a noninvasive method of obtaining real time pictures of your heart to evaluate how well the heart beats and how blood moves through the heart. It is an extremely safe test and uses no radiation. Doctors will typically order cardiac MRIs to evaluate for heart structure and function in case of cardiac defects or valve problems, to look for viable heart tissue after a heart attack or for causes of arrhythmias. This is a test using magnets and radio waves to build a 3D model of your heart. Typically the procedure takes between 30 and 60 minutes, during which you will need to remain very still and follow breathing instructions. You will hear loud noises during the test which are the magnets turning on and off.

What do I need to know?

The test takes place inside the MRI magnet which resembles a tube. Patients with severe claustrophobia may need a sedative before the procedure. Because the test uses powerful magnets, patients with anything metallic in their body may be at risk for problems. You will be screened prior to the procedure to ensure that it is safe. Orthopedic hardware is not a problem but may interfere with images. Generally patients with spinal stimulators, pacemakers or defibrillators are not candidates for this test. In recent years, the medical community has become aware of a disease known as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis or NSF which may arise in patients getting MRI contrast who have problems with their kidneys. You will be screened prior to the procedure and may need a blood test to check on the functioning of your kidneys.

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