Cardiac MRI scan (Heart MRI)

What is an MRI scan?

An MRI scan is a special technique that uses magnets and radio waves to produce both two and three dimensional pictures of the inside of your body.

What does a cardiac MRI involve?

A cardiac MRI scan is when an MRI scanner is used to take both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. It is used to get images of the heart and to look at the structure and function of the heart.

The radiographer will help position you on the special table that slides into the scanner. You will be able to talk to him/her during the scan. Due to the magnets inside the machine you’ll need to wear clothing without zips or metallic parts and to remove any jewellery, hearing aids, watches or glasses.

You will hear some noise - this is completely normal and is the sound of the MRI scan machine taking the images. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones and often you can choose to listen to music if you wish. During the private MRI scan, you should breathe quietly and normally and keep very still as any movement will blur the images.

This whole procedure will usually be repeated several times, and the entire examination generally takes around 30 minutes (but can last up to an hour depending on the examination.

Are there any risks associated with private cardiac MRI scans?

MRI scans are not suitable for everybody. For example, the magnetic field from the scan affects metals such as iron, nickel and steel. As a precaution, MRI scans are not usually done on women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant. When you arrive at the hospital, you may be asked some questions – about your health, previous operations, allergies and any medicines you are taking. This helps to ensure that it is safe for you to have an MRI scan.

Otherwise, MRI scans are considered very safe with no known side effects from exposure to magnetic or radio waves. Depending on the type of scan some patients may require the injection of a special dye (contrast medium); reactions to this dye are very rare and can usually be treated immediately.

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