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What Does Cardiac MRI Show?

The doctor supervising your scan will provide your doctor with the results of your cardiac MRI. Your doctor will discuss the findings with you.

Cardiac MRI can reveal various heart diseases and conditions, such as:

Cardiac MRI is a fast, accurate tool that can help diagnose a heart attack. The test does this by detecting areas of the heart that don't move normally, have poor blood supply, or are scarred.

Cardiac MRI also can show whether any of the coronary arteries are blocked. A blockage prevents your heart muscle from getting enough oxygen-rich blood, which can lead to a heart attack.

Currently, coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-rah-fee) is the most common procedure for looking at blockages in the coronary arteries. Coronary angiography is an invasive procedure that uses x rays and iodine-based dye.

Researchers have found that cardiac MRI can sometimes replace coronary angiography, avoiding the need to use x-ray radiation and iodine-based dye. This use of MRI is called MR angiography (MRA).

Echocardiography (echo) is the main test for diagnosing heart valve disease. However, your doctor also might recommend cardiac MRI to assess the severity of valve disease.

A cardiac MRI can confirm information about valve defects or provide more detailed information about heart valve disease.

This information can help your doctor plan your treatment. An MRI also might be done before heart valve surgery to help your surgeon plan for the surgery.

Cardiac MRI

machine. The table will slide into the machine, and the patient will lie quietly while pictures of the heart are taken.

Figure A shows the heart's position in the body and the location and angle of the MRI pictures shown in figure C. Figure B is a magnetic resonance angiogram, which sometimes is used instead of a standard angiogram. Figure C shows MRI pictures of a normal left ventricle (left image), a left ventricle damaged by a heart attack (middle image), and a left ventricle that isn't getting enough blood from the coronary arteries (right image).

Researchers are finding new ways to use cardiac MRI. In the future, cardiac MRI may replace x rays as the main way to guide invasive procedures such as cardiac catheterization (KATH-eh-ter-ih-ZA-shun).

Also, improvements in cardiac MRI will likely lead to better methods for detecting heart disease in the future.

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February 2, 2012