Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Cardiac MRI is a non-invasive, high spatial resolution scan that uses magnetic and radio waves to create clear pictures showing the inside of your heart. Unlike an X-ray, an MRI scan does not use radiation. Cardiac MRI scans are not readily available in all hospitals but their availability is increasing in main cardiac tertiary centres.

Cardiac MRI scans are used to view your heart’s structure and assess its pump function. It also has an important part in diagnosing congenital heart disease as well as disorders of the pericardium, cardiac tumours, the presence of intracardiac thrombus and assessing the severity of complex valve disease. MRI is considered to be the gold-standard imaging modality for diagnosing the cause and in the assessment of viability/reversibility in patients with heart failure. Recently Stress Perfusion MRI has demonstrated high sensitivity in assessing coronary artery disease.

Unfortunately some patients with prosthetic valves and cardiac pacemakers cannot undergo MRI imaging. Patients with a tendency to claustrophobia may also find this test unacceptable.

The role of cardiac MRI is very likely to continue to increase in the future for assessing cardiac structure and function as well as detecting coronary artery disease. However. it is not as widely used as other modalities in the investigation of cardiac disease because it is technically difficult and relatively expensive.