MRI Scanning Body Parts Cardiac
Body Parts Cardiac

Cardiac (heart) MRI Scan and Stress Tests: A Definitive Guide of What to Expect

What is a cardiac MRI scan?

A cardiac MRI is a scan of the heart, which provides reliable images for use in diagnosing heart conditions. Heart MRIs are especially useful for investigating more complex heart conditions that could be unclear in an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound scan).

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and it uses powerful magnets and radiofrequency currents to generate images of the inside of your body. MRI does not use any harmful radiation like X-rays and CT scans do, but they often require a safe contrast dye to be injected, which helps generate higher-definition images during the scan.

The scan works by taking images – called slices – as the MRI moves across three planes:

What is a cardiac MRI stress test?

While some diagnoses require a standard MRI scan of the heart, with or without contrast dye, there is another type of cardiac MRI called a stress test. They are used to investigate the blood flow to the heart, and there are different types of stress test:

What does an MRI scan of the heart show?

A cardiac MRI scan shows detailed images of your heart structures and surrounding tissues. Examples include:

It can also assess blood flow (e.g. by using a stress test), the size of the heart, and how it is working. This makes MRI a valuable imaging technique in diagnosing heart conditions, and checking the functionality of the heart.

What can a cardiac MRI diagnose?

The results of a cardiac MRI scan or stress test can be used to identify and diagnose a number of conditions. Examples include:

What happens during a heart (cardiac) MRI scan?

Before you go for your scan:

When you arrive for your scan:

During the scan:

After the scan:

How long does a cardiac MRI take?

A cardiac MRI procedure can vary in length of time, from 30 minutes all the way up to 75 minutes. This depends on the purpose and method of the scan, and how much imaging is required.

Next steps:


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