Dr Nasis provides a range of cardiac imaging services following a multi-modality collaborative approach. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging test that produces very detailed images of the heart and surrounding vessels, allowing us to detect abnormalities that may not be seen with other imaging modalities. It does this by using a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a specialised computer to produce detailed two- and three- dimensional images of the heart. Unlike CT scanning, it does not result in exposure to ionising radiation.
A cardiac MRI may be recommended to detect abnormalities in the heart, including diagnosis of a wide range of heart conditions, particularly complex cases and for diagnosing conditions where other tests have been ambiguous. Common conditions assessed by cardiac MRI include coronary heart disease (cardiac damage from heart attacks), congenital heart disease, inherited heart conditions (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy or other problems with the heart muscle), heart muscle thickening, heart valve disease, heart birth defects and cardiac tumours.
The scanner is a large machine shaped like a tunnel with a hole in the middle. You will lie down on a table and be moved inside the scanner with a special coil over your chest, which needs to be in the centre of the magnet. It can be a bit noisy, so you will be given headphones while inside. You will usually be asked to hold your breath several times during the test, so images can be taken while your chest is still. Your heart rate must be monitored throughout the procedure using small electrodes placed on your chest, which are connected to a monitor.
If you are claustrophobic, you may require sedation through a small needle (intravenous cannula) in the arm. In most cases, an injection of a contrast agent (gadolinium) is also administered during the test via an intravenous cannula. Gadolinium is considered to be safe with a very low incidence of allergic reaction and is unrelated to other iodine-based contrast injections you may have had for CT scans or other x-ray procedures. However, there is a potential risk of serious adverse reaction in people with significant kidney disease, as your kidneys need to remove the dye from your body, so gadolinium is not administered in such cases.
The test usually takes 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of problem being investigated. After the test, Dr Nasis will explain the findings to you, including whether you have a heart condition that needs specific treatment or monitoring.