MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Heart (Cardiac)

Cardiac or heart MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses a computer, radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to capture and produce detailed images of intricate structures within the heart. A Cardiac MRI is used to identify, detect and monitor various heart diseases. It is also used to look into the heart’s function and anatomy especially individuals suffering from congenital heart disease. It is good to note that cardiac MRI does not make use of any ionization radiation. This imaging technique is able to produce pictures of the heart that are clear and more accurate that other imaging techniques.

You should inform your doctor if you have any health concerns or suffer from any allergies or have undergone any form of surgery recently as well as if you are pregnant. Although the magnetic field produced by the MRI equipment is not harmful, it may cause certain medical devices not to work properly. Most orthopedic implants are safe but it is advisable to inform the doctors if you have any metals or devices in your body. Instructions on whether and when to eat or drink before the exam can vary depending on the hospital or facility. Unless you are advised otherwise, you should continue taking your prescribed medication as you normally do. Wear loose and comfortable clothing and leave all jewelry at home. If you experience anxiety or claustrophobia, you can ask your doctor to give you a mild sedative.

What Is Heart/Cardiac MRI?

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a non-invasive medical exam that is done to diagnose numerous health conditions. MRI makes use of a special computer, radio frequency pulses and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of bones, soft tissues, organs and nearly all other internal body structures. MRI does not employ ionization radiation technology or x-rays. Detailed MRI pictures are used by doctors to evaluate different parts of the body to establish any presence of certain illnesses. The pictures can be printed or copied onto a CD, transmitted electronically, uploaded to an online cloud server or examined on a computer screen.

What Are Some Common Applications of Heart MRI?

Heart MRI is necessary to assist your doctor to identify and monitor heart disease by:

– Evaluating the function and anatomy of the chambers of the heart, size, valves, flow of blood through major vessels as well as condition of other surrounding structures like the pericardium (sac of fluid that surrounds the heart).

– Diagnosing a wide range of cardiovascular ailments and disorders such as inflammatory conditions, infections and tumors.

– Monitoring the effects or consequences of coronary artery disease such as limited flow of blood to the heart as well as scarring of muscles within the heart after a heart attack.

– Planning treatment programs for patients suffering from cardiovascular illnesses.

– Monitoring progression of various cardiovascular disorders over time.

– Tracking the side effects of surgical procedures especially in patients suffering from congenital heart disease.

– Examine the anatomy of the heart and major blood vessels in adults and children suffering from congenital heart disease.

What Are The Limitations of A Heart MRI?

Clear and accurate pictures are only possible if you are able to remain completely still and follow the breathing instructions given by the relevant technicians when the exam is taking place. Anxiety, confusion and pain can make capturing of these pictures a little bit difficult.

People with relatively large bodies may not be able to fit properly in certain MRI machines.

Presence of a metallic object or an implant may also prevent clear and accurate images from being captured as metallic objects often produce streak artifacts. Movement of a patient during the exam can also have similar results.

A highly irregular heartbeat can also negatively affect the quality of pictures especially if the imaging being done is aimed at monitoring electrical activity in the heat such as ECG (electrocardiography).

Atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat may also result in artifacts forming the MRI images.

The continuous movement of the heart can make it difficult to capture clear and accurate images. However, several things can be done to ease this process such as you performing repeated short breath holds during the exam or synchronizing your breathing with the imaging as well as synchronizing the imaging with ECG tracing.

Cardiac MRI is not advisable for individuals who have serious injuries but this can be a matter of clinical judgment as well. This is because, many types of life support gadgets and traction devices affect MRI images and therefore should be kept at away during imaging. Also, MRI takes longer than other scans such as x-rays and CT scans making it hard to perform during emergency situations.

Although, MRI has not been observed to harm an unborn baby, pregnant women are advised not to undergo such as an exam during their 1st trimester unless it is extremely necessary.

Getting images of coronary arteries is more difficult with Magnetic Resonance Imaging and this is why a cardiac CT scan is preferred. MRI is also more expensive and time consuming than other imaging procedures conducted in health facilities.