Monday, September 9, 2013

Cardiac MRI

By E. Cochen

Cardiac MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a test intended to evaluate the heart. This test will provide highly accurate assessment and evaluation of the heart's function and structure. It also evaluates the status of blood vessels of the chest area. Cardiac MRI is actually a noninvasive test, which means surgery is not needed, and there will be no instrument to be inserted inside the body in order to create a detailed picture of the heart and its tissues.

In MRI testing, injecting contrast (gadolinium) is necessary in order to obtain information about the heart's blood supply as well as to know the amount of the scarring heart muscles, if any. There are various reasons why this test is being conducted. It is actually being used to investigate any unusual findings or structural abnormalities noted in the imaging test. This test is also used to monitor the thickness of heart's muscles, its function, and size. It is also being used to assess if the heart and its function can be improved through an angioplasty or bypass surgery especially to patients who have previous damage in the heart muscles.

Cardiac MRI is beneficial especially when there's a need for an immediate evaluation of a patient's heart and some parts like the pulmonary arteries, pericardium, aorta, etc. In some cases, this test is highly beneficial during an emergency. However, the patient must be physically and emotionally prepared prior to the test. If contrast injection is required, the patient will need to fast for a minimum of 3 hours before the test. Electrodes will be attached on the patient's chest area during the test.

Cardiac MRI is particularly common to hospitals and clinics, thus test is well known to people. This is usually being used to assess and accurately diagnose any heart problems and diseases which may include post heart attack damages, heart valve problems, heart failures, cardiac tumors, and other diseases.

Generally, MRI testing is truly safe. Patients won't have any radiation exposure, and side effects are considered rare. Although some patients feel anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable, others may even feel claustrophobic in the scanner. In order for the patient to relax, patients will be encouraged to listen to music during the test. A medical technician will be there to talk to the patient. The gadolinium injection is proven safe and side effects from it are rare.

Cardiac MRI test usually takes one to two and a half hours. The electrodes will be attached on the patient's chest in order to monitor the heart as well as its rhythm. Health care providers will see to it that the patient is relaxed and comfortable while inside the scanner. The patient will lie down on the scanner and needs to be quite for several minutes and will be required to hold breath intermittently while photos of the heart are being taken.

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