Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive test that uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce a detailed picture of the heart and the structures within and around it. The test does not involve radiation and provides unparalleled image quality.
Dr. Nadar and his cardiology team at both the Camp Hill, Pa. and Newport, Pa. offices may recommend a heart MRI to help diagnose heart and vascular abnormalities or disease.
Why Heart MRIs are Performed
MRIs are one of the best ways to get an overall picture of your heart health. They are commonly used to diagnose and assess heart and vascular conditions such as:
- Coronary artery disease
- Cardiac tumor
- Heart failure
- Pericardial disease
- Heart valve regurgitation or stenosis
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Masses in and around the heart muscle
- Congenital heart disease
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (overgrown portions of the heart)
- Presence of heart damage (heart attack)
- Infective endocarditis
Heart MRI exams help cardiologist Dr. Nadar and his team evaluate the anatomy and function of the heart chambers, heart valves, size of and blood flow through vessels, and the surrounding structures including the pericardium. Using the results of the test, we can plan your treatment for cardiovascular issues and monitor your progress over time. Cardiac MRIs can also be used to evaluate the effects of surgical procedures.
Are There Risks Involved with a Cardiac MRI?
Cardiac MRIs are generally safe for most patients. Patients with metal implants or pacemakers may not be good candidates for MRIs because of the strong magnetic fields used during the test. While most patients do not have any side effects from an MRI of the heart, some risks include:
- Allergic reaction to gadolinium, a contrast agent used during the test
- Interference with implanted medical devices such as artificial heart valves; pins, plates, screws, and staples; and stents
Before the test, tell Dr. Nadar if you have any of the following:
- Brain aneurysm clips
- Artificial heart valves
- Heart defibrillator or pacemaker
- Cochlear implants
- Kidney problems or dialysis
- Artificial joints
- Vascular stents
If you are scheduled for a cardiac MRI and have specific questions about risks, call our Camp Hill or Newport office at 223.225.1120.
What to Expect During a Heart MRI
Cardiac MRIs do not cause any pain for patients, although some patients may experience anxiousness when inside the scanner. If you feel you may experience some anxiousness or will have trouble staying still during the test, Dr. Nadar may recommend a medicine to help you relax.
Before the test, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove all metal objects including jewelry, watches, pins, hairpins, eyeglasses, and removable dental work.
During the MRI scan, you will lay on a table that moves through a very large donut-shaped scanner. The technician may ask you to hold your breath for a short period of time. The scanner makes whirring, humming, and thumping noises during the test and you may be offered ear plugs or headphones.
There is no feeling or sensation as the electromagnetic fields pass harmlessly through your body. The test can take up to 90 minutes and unless you've had a sedative to help you relax, you can drive home after the procedure.