Cardiac MRI

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates detailed images of your heart and blood vessels using computer-generated radio waves and a powerful magnetic field. It is painless, noninvasive and generally safe, though there are special considerations with implantable devices.

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What does cardiac MRI diagnose?

Mayo Clinic Healthcare uses cardiac MRI to diagnose a number of heart conditions, including:

Cardiac MRI can assess:

  • Heart chamber size and function
  • Heart wall movement and thickness
  • Damage to the heart caused by various conditions
  • Structural problems in the aorta, such as aneurysms or dissections
  • Blood vessel blockage and inflammation

What happens during cardiac MRI? How long does it take?

Cardiac MRI can take 15 minutes to more than an hour, depending on your condition and needs.

For most people, there are no preparations and you can eat and drink normally and take your usual medications. However, you will need to answer a questionnaire beforehand to determine if you can safely receive an MRI scan as certain types of implanted devices contain metal that are attracted to magnets.

At the clinic, you will need to change into a gown and remove anything metal, such as jewelry, glasses and hearing aids. A technician will insert an IV line into your arm or hand to deliver contrasting dye during the scan.

During the scan, you will lie on a table that slides into a long tube. If you are claustrophobic, you may receive a mild sedative. You'll be able to talk by microphone to the technician conducting the scan. If you prefer, we'll provide earplugs and let you select music to help block the noise of the MRI. You will be asked to lie still as movements can cause blurring on the images.

If you haven't been sedated, you can resume your usual activities immediately after the scan.