Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

What is it?


Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a test that produces detailed pictures of your heart by using magnets, radio waves and a computer to scan your body. The test is generally considered safe and does not use ionizing radiation to produce the images. Physicians use this test to identify and diagnose heart conditions.


How do I prepare?


  • You can take your medications as usual, unless your physician advises you otherwise.
  • Don’t eat a large meal prior to the test, and don’t drink carbonated beverages one to two hours before the test.
  • Do not wear jewelry, watches or hairpins.
  • You will be instructed to remove dentures, hearing aids and wigs. It is very important to remove these items, especially if any of them contain metal or electronics. Metal objects can interfere with the magnetic field used during the exam which will affect the clarity of the MRI images.
  • The magnetic field can damage electronic hearing aids.
  • The scan is not advisable if you are pregnant.


Be sure to tell the technologist if you have any metal devices in your body, such as implanted electronic devices, metallic prostheses, artificial heart valves or magnets in your dentures. Also inform your technologist if you dislike close spaces or if you have back pain.


DO NOT receive an MRI scan if you have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or pacemaker. The scan may affect the functioning of these devices.


What can I expect?


An I.V. may be placed in your vein to give you fluids, medications or contrast dye. The technician will monitor your vital signs during the test. You will lie on a stretcher that will be moved into the MRI scanner. You will be able to talk to the technician through a speaker that is inside the scanner. You will hear thumping sounds when the scanning starts. The technician will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 20 seconds at times during the test.


The scan can last from one to two hours. Movement can distort the images so it is important that you lie very still and breathe normally during the scan.




After the scan is completed, the images are reviewed to make sure they are clear and that no additional images are necessary. You can leave and continue your usual routine unless you have been given a sedative during the scan. Your physician will contact you with the results of your scan.


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