We offer state-of-the-art techniques for imaging the heart noninvasively. Cardiac MRI (cMRI/CMR) is a painless, noninvasive imaging test utilizing radio waves to create both still and moving pictures of the heart. An MRI examination of the heart usually lasts 45 to 90 minutes.
Cardiac MRI continues to develop rapidly and is becoming the diagnostic standard of care for many children with congenital and acquired heart diseases. It is also being extensively used in older adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease to obtain a more complete noninvasive cardiac evaluation, which can sometimes be limited with echocardiography due to body size.
Uses for cardiac MRI include:
- Segmental description of cardiac anomalies from neonates to adults
- Evaluation of thoracic aortic anomalies and pulmonary artery and the branches
- Noninvasive detection and quantification of shunts, stenosis and regurgitations
- Evaluation of conotruncal malformations and complex anomalies
- Identification of pulmonary and systemic venous anomalies
- Postoperative studies
- Coronary anomalies
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia
- Cardiac masses
Advanced technology, exceptional care
Cardiac MRI is unique in that it does not use radiation. This is especially important for infants and children, women and patients who have received substantial amounts of radiation in the past because of necessary procedures or tests like cardiac catheterizations, X-rays and /or CT scans.
The hospital houses some of the most advanced cardiac MRI systems currently available. We use it to take detailed, three-dimensional pictures of the heart. Using these images, we can examine the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels, create images of complex heart defects and measure how well the heart is pumping blood.
This technology allows us to get information that was previously unattainable due to limitations of echocardiography and catheterization. In addition, it also gives us the ability to get information to create a 3D model of the heart. This provides our cardiologists, interventionalists and cardiac surgeons with unique insights in the management of care. Many times it also allows patients to avoid more invasive procedures.
In addition, we have technologists who have specialized training in cardiovascular imaging and will guide you or your child through the potentially unfamiliar process with empathy and compassion. The MRI physician also sits in the control room reviewing the images and planning the study. We also have anesthesiologists who are specialized in administering anesthesia to patients with cardiac problems.
- The MRI machine sits in a large room and looks like a hollow shaped tube or tunnel. Your child will lie down on a table that slides into the tunnel.
- Parents can remain in the MRI room during the exam.
- A technologist operates the MRI machine from outside the room behind a glass window. He’ll talk and listen to you or your child through an intercom. The MRI physician also sits in the control room reviewing the images and planning the study.
- The MRI machine makes loud banging and clicking noises during most of the exam. Patients are given earplugs to soften the noise.
- During the exam, your child may be asked to hold his/her breath for brief periods (10 to 20 seconds). This helps create clearer pictures.
- Most patients receive a contrast dye called gadolinium during the exam to help obtain a better picture of blood vessels. The contrast can also help identify areas of scarring in the heart if it has been injured by certain disorders or prior surgeries. The medicine is given through an intravenous line (IV) placed before the exam.
- To obtain clear images, it is important for the patient to lie still in the scanner. Young children who are unable to lie still or are too afraid of the machine or have anxiety in closed spaces need to have general anesthesia during the examination.
- Patients who are scheduled for general anesthesia have an appointment at the pre-testing clinic a few days before the MRI. During the visit, they will have a physical checkup to assess for any anesthesia risks. They will receive eating and drinking instruction a day before by the skilled team of physicians and nurse practitioner of the pre-testing clinic. Patients and parents get to meet the anesthesiologist before the test and ask questions.