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What Is Cardiac MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe, noninvasive test that creates detailed pictures of your organs and tissues. "Noninvasive" means that no surgery is done and no instruments are inserted into your body.

MRI uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create pictures of your organs and tissues. Unlike other imaging tests, MRI doesn't use ionizing radiation or carry any risk of causing cancer.

Cardiac MRI creates both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. Doctors use cardiac MRI to get pictures of the beating heart and to look at its structure and function. These pictures can help them decide the best way to treat people who have heart problems.

Cardiac MRI is a common test. It's used to diagnose and assess many diseases and conditions, including:

Cardiac MRI can help explain results from other tests, such as x rays and computed tomography (to-MOG-rah-fee) scans (also called CT scans).

Doctors sometimes use cardiac MRI instead of invasive procedures or tests that involve radiation (such as x rays) or dyes containing iodine (these dyes may be harmful to people who have kidney problems).

A contrast agent, such as gadolinium (gad-oh-LIN-e-um), might be injected into a vein during cardiac MRI. The substance travels to the heart and highlights the heart and blood vessels on the MRI pictures. This contrast agent often is used for people who are allergic to the dyes used in CT scanning.

People who have severe kidney or liver problems may not be able to have the contrast agent. As a result, they may have a noncontrast MRI (an MRI that does not involve contrast agent).

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Cardiac MRI Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Cardiac MRI, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

 
February 02, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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