Cardiac MRI

Also known as: MRI of the heart, magnetic resonance imaging of the heart.

What is cardiac MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI of the heart, is a medical test that provides high-definition images of the heart (or body) and surrounding veins and arteries using a combination of magnetic and radio waves and a computer. No radiation is used. 


What happens during the procedure?

Cardiac MRIs are performed in an MRI machine (a large magnet) and the test is conducted by specialized personnel. Most children don’t require sedation; when children are very anxious, a short-acting sedative may be given (infants/young children may require anesthesia). The infant/child is placed on his or her back on a table and that is then passed into a large cylindrical machine. The child must lie still and breathe normally while the scan is being performed. It may take many minutes to an hour to perform the test. MRI studies can be performed with surgical clips being present but not in the presence of an implanted pacemaker.


Is any special preparation needed?

Metal jewelry will need to be removed prior to the test. Depending on the reason for the MRI, an intravenous catheter may be inserted into your child’s arm. Specific eating and drinking instructions may be given the day before the study.


What are the risk factors?

There is no risk of radiation exposure. as no radiation is used during MRI. There are however a number of situations (for example in the presence of an implanted pacemaker, cochlear implants, other iron-based metal implants) where an MRI cannot be performed.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 8/31/2018 8:51:09 AM

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