What gives an unequaled view of the heart, exposes you to no radiation, and allows doctors to evaluate your heart's condition quickly and accurately? Cardiac MRI and it may be just what the cardiologist ordered.
Short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI has been a staple of imaging for many years. MRI uses the power of great, powerful magnets and radio waves rather than radiation to create clear images of your internal organs. With these images, physicians can diagnose and evaluate conditions affecting many internal organs and tissues, including your most vital organ - your heart. For many people, cardiac MRI is a lifesaver.
Internal images of the heart
During a cardiac MRI examination, the patient lays flat on a table that slides into a tunnel-like machine. A loud knocking sound is heard while the MRI machine is on and the person may be asked to hold his or her breath for a few seconds. These pauses in breathing reduce patient movement and result is clearer images. For some exams, a contrast dye may be injected into the patient for a better view of the heart or arteries.
Once the exam is complete, doctors have picture-perfect images of the heart and its adjacent blood vessels. From the amount of fat and cholesterol (plaque) impeding the body's arteries to the amount of damage caused by a heart attack, cardiac MRI gives doctors the information needed for diagnosis and to begin treatment as quickly as possible.
What are the reasons for a cardiac MRI?
MRI of the heart may be performed for further evaluation of signs or symptoms that may suggest:
The Digital Difference
- Atherosclerosis: A gradual clogging of the arteries over many years by fatty materials and other substances in the blood stream.
- Cardiomyopathy: An enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle.
- Congenital heart disease: Defects in one or more heart structures that occur during formation of the foetus, such as a ventricular septal defect (hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart).
- Congestive heart failure: A condition in which the heart muscle has become weakened to an extent that blood cannot be pumped efficiently, causing build-up (congestion) in the blood vessels, lungs, feet, ankles, and other parts of the body.
- Aneurysm: A dilation of a part of the heart muscle or the aorta (the large artery that carries oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body), which may cause weakness of the tissue at the site of the aneurysm.
- Valvular heart disease: Malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may cause an obstruction of the blood flow within the heart.
- Cardiac tumour: A tumour of the heart that may occur on the outside surface of the heart, within one or more chambers of the heart, or within the muscle tissue of the heart.
Thanks to digital advances, cardiac MRI is becoming even more useful in heart health. A cardiac MRI can now take as few as fifteen minutes, and diagnosis can be made in a fraction of the time required of previous MRI technology. Some imaging facilities even house advances that permit cardiac MRI examinations
to be viewed online, via a secure server. This allows doctors to look at cardiac MRI images at the office or even at home, resulting in immediate second or third opinions and faster, more precise diagnosis.
As cardiac MRI continues to advance, doctors are more able to get to the heart of an individual's problem. With this and other innovations in cardiac care
, more of your family, friends, and neighbours can receive timely and appropriate medical care that may improve or even save their lives.