MRI is an imaging method that produces pictures of the body using a magnet and radio waves. Using special antennas, the machine receives radio waves from the body and processes the signals in its computer to generate very clear pictures of the anatomy. MRI is done to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels and will provide your cardiologist with information that cannot be obtained by other tests. There is no pain associated with an MRI examination and it is not harmful because it does not use x-rays or radioactive materials. A cardiac MRI takes about 45 to 90 minutes to complete, and you will be required to remain still during that time. Many patients receive a contrast dye, called gadolinium, during the exam to help obtain a better picture of blood vessels. The dye is given through an intravenous line (IV) placed before the examination.
Most centers currently recommend that patients who have a pacemaker, a defibrillator, or a permanent pacemaker lead do not have an MRI. Some implants such as stents and sternal wires are considered safe for MRI. Please consult with your MRI technologist of doctor if you think you may have an implant that will interfere with your MRI.
You should avoid food or drink one hour before the scheduled exam in order to avoid a visit to the bathroom during the scan.
The only risks associated with a cardiac MRI are related to the IV and IV contrast and include bleeding, infection, damage to the vein used and allergic reaction to the dye. You should tell your doctor if you have a known sensitivity to any kind of dye, iodine or shellfish.