Cardiovascular Magnectic Resonance Imaging
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, or Cardiac MRI is a state-of-the-art technique for taking pictures of the heart. It is an imaging modality that can be used to supplement other imaging modalities such as echocardiography and Cardiac CT, but with better accuracy and more detail.
The study is done by asking a patient to lie flat in a strong magnet. One of the more significant patient benefits is that no radiation is used in the study. The magnet emits radio frequency pulses. Based upon the interaction of the impulses, the molecules in the heart and the magnetic field, images are acquired of the heart and displayed on a computer. Using special software, those images are manipulated to provide information about the patient’s heart. Most patients are given a contrast agent through an IV which enhances the image quality and helps increase diagnostic yield. Tissue characteristics of Cardiac MRI are excellent and, as a result, the heart muscle can be closely evaluated for abnormal thickness or cardiac anatomy.
Cardiac MRI can also be used to measure the extent of damage, or scar, within the heart muscle that may result from a heart attack. Inflammation of the heart muscle such as myocarditis or pericarditis can be seen in Cardiac MRI as well.