Cardiac MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

A cardiac MRI scan is used to view your heart’s structure and to assess how well it’s pumping. This is useful if you have structural problems with your heart such as congenital heart disease or age-related wear and tear of your heart valves. If you have heart failure, the scan can help your doctor to determine the amount of healthy heart muscle.

The scan can take up to an hour and the bed will move towards a tunnelled scanner, which can be very noisy. You have to discuss with the cardiologist and Radiologist if you have a pacemaker or an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), inner ear implants or any type of surgical foreign body such as a metal clip in the brain or eye. Depending on the compatibility of the above products, you will be either allowed or declined to have an MRI scan.

A cardiac MRI scan is used to view your heart’s structure and to assess how well it’s pumping. This is useful if you have structural problems with your heart such as congenital heart disease or age-related wear and tear of your heart valves. If you have heart failure, the scan can help your doctor to determine the amount of healthy heart muscle.

cardiac MRI

What happens during a cardiac MRI scan?

  • You lie on a bed, which then moves inside a tunnel-shaped scanner that is open at both ends.
  • You will be asked to lie still while the scan is taking place.
  • The scan may last for up to an hour, but there’s a buzzer you can press if you need to speak to the radiographer (the person operating the scanner).
  • The scanner is quite noisy – you’ll be able to hear banging sounds – but you’ll usually be offered earplugs or better still, earphones so you can listen to music and relax
  • Because it’s important to stay still during the scan, babies and young children are often given a general anaesthetic before an MRI scan.
  • For some cardiac MRIs the doctor will use a dye known as contrast agent to enable images of the blood flow to your heart show up more clearly on the scan.  The dye will be injected into a vein in your arm before the scan starts.  Your doctor will give you more information about this if it is required

The test is pain free, but if you’re claustrophobic (afraid of being in small spaces), tell your doctor before the test.  You may be offered a mild sedative – a drug to help you relax.

Is a cardiac MRI suitable for everyone?

You have to discuss with the cardiologist and Radiologist if you have a pacemaker or an implantable cardiac defibrillaotr, inner ear implants or any type of surgical foreign body such as a metal clip in the brain or eye. Depending on the compatibility of the above products, you will be either allowed or declined to have an MRI scan. That’s because the scanner uses very strong magnets, which could deactivate the pacemaker or defibrillator and cause anything made of metal to move.

If your kidneys aren’t working well, the dye used during the scan could cause further damage. Your doctor will take a blood test before the scan to check your kidney function, and explain the risks and benefits to you.

 

 

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