Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the structures within the heart. It is used to detect or monitor cardiac disease and to evaluate the heart’s anatomy and function in patients with congenital heart disease.
Learn More About Cardiac MRI
Cardiac MRI imaging is performed to help detect or monitor cardiac disease by:
- evaluating the anatomy and function of the heart chambers, valves, size and blood flow through major vessels, and surrounding structures such as the pericardium (the fluid filled sac that surrounds the heart).
- diagnosing a variety of cardiovascular (heart and/or blood vessel) disorders such as tumors, infections, and inflammatory conditions.
- evaluating the effects of coronary artery disease such as limited blood flow to the heart muscle and scarring within the heart muscle after a heart attack.
- planning treatment for cardiovascular disorders.
- monitoring the progression of certain disorders over time.
- evaluating the effects of surgical changes, especially in patients with congenital heart disease.
- evaluating the anatomy of the heart and blood vessels in children and adults with congenital heart disease.
You should let the technologist know if you have any serious health problems, or if you have had any recent surgeries. Some conditions, such as severe kidney disease, may prevent you from being given gadolinium contrast for an MRI. If you have a history of kidney disease or liver transplant, it will be necessary to determine whether the kidneys are functioning adequately.
Since you will be positioned within a large, very strong magnet, you must remove all loose metal objects. Doing so is important for your safety as well as that of our staff, and for proper functioning of the equipment. You may be asked to change into a gown unless you are wearing clothing that is metal-free. You will need to complete a detailed screening sheet, on which you will be asked whether or not you have any metal or other devices implanted in your body that may interfere with the scan or cause injury to you.
If you have any concerns or questions about that aspect of the procedure, please ask the technologist before you enter the room. We also will be happy to answer your questions by telephone at any time before your appointment. Some types of scans require fasting beforehand. You will be instructed if fasting is necessary for your procedure. Patients not receiving sedation should arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam time in order to register. If your procedure has been scheduled with sedation or anesthesia, please arrive 1 hour prior to exam for sedation to be administered at the hospital or radiology office. Do not take prescribed sedation medications until after paperwork has been filled out and you are instructed to do so by the technologist. If you have any questions about your medications, please call the center where you are being scanned and ask to speak with a technologist. All patients receiving sedation must have someone with them to drive them home after the procedure.
Please let us know if you have any of the following:
- Cardiac Pacemaker
- Artificial heart valve prosthesis
- Eye Implants or metal ear implants
- Any metal implants activated electronically, magnetically, or mechanically
- Aneurysm clips
- Copper 7 IUD
- Penile implant
- Shrapnel or non-removed bullet
- Any metal puncture(s) or fragment(s) in the eye
Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home, if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, metal and electronic items are not allowed in the exam room. In addition to affecting the MRI images, these objects can become projectiles within the MRI scanner room and may cause you and/or others nearby harm.
One of our board-certified Radiologists will interpret your exam and send a report to your physician within 5 business days. Contact your referring physician for any information pertaining to the findings.
Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician’s order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 850-878-4127.
During an MRI exam, you will lie on a moveable exam table that will slowly move into the machine. This procedure is non-invasive and there is no pain associated with this exam. Some of the common distractions or discomforts include the loud tapping noises that are often made by the machine or the close proximity to the MRI machine. For patients who are claustrophobic or who become uncomfortable in these situations, they may be prescribed a mild sedative to be taken before the exam.
You also may notice a warm feeling in the area being studied. This is normal but you should not be afraid to communicate to the technologist if it bothers you. A technologist will always be available, monitoring you throughout the exam if any concerns arise.
During cardiac MRI, your heart beat will be monitored and you will be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time while images are recorded.
It is normal for the area of your body being imaged to feel slightly warm, but if it bothers you, notify the radiologist or technologist. It is important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being obtained, which is typically only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. You will know when images are being recorded because you will hear and feel loud tapping or thumping sounds when the coils that generate the radiofrequency pulses are activated. Some centers provide earplugs, while others use headphones to reduce the intensity of the sounds made by the MRI machine. You may be able to relax between imaging sequences, but will be asked to maintain your position without movement as much as possible.
In some cases, intravenous injection of contrast material may be administered before the images are obtained. The intravenous needle may cause you some discomfort when it is inserted and you may experience some bruising. There is also a very small chance of irritation of your skin at the site of the IV tube insertion. Some patients may sense a temporary metallic taste in their mouth after the contrast injection.