Cardiovascular MRI in Virginia | Sentara Healthcare
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Cardiovascular MRI 

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The cardiovascular MRI at Advanced Imaging at Sentara Heart Hospital adds unprecedented imaging capability for patients.  Coupled with the 64-slice cardiac CT, patients receive a comprehensive assessment of the heart without an invasive procedure.

Sentara staff takes great care to ensure patients understand the procedure and feel comfortable before and during their exam. The results will be read by a cardiologist.


About Cardiac MRIs

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio wave energy and a strong magnetic field rather than X-rays to take clear, detailed pictures.

Doctors use cardiac MRI to get pictures of the beating heart and to look at its structure and function.

Cardiovascular MRI can be used to diagnose a number of diseases and conditions, including damage caused by a heart attack, heart muscle thickness and function.

Cardiovascular MRI What is a cardiovascular MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio wave energy and a strong magnetic field, rather than X-rays, to take clear and detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures

 This technology coupled with the 64-slice cardiac CT provides a comprehensive assessment of the heart without an invasive procedure.

What can a cardiovascular MRI tell my doctor?
Cardiac MRI is used to diagnose and evaluate a number of diseases and conditions, including:

Damage caused by a heart attack
Heart failure
Heart valve problems
Congenital heart defects
 Pericarditis (a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around your heart is inflamed)
Cardiac tumors

 It can also be used to: 
 Evaluate heart muscle thickness and function and heart size
Assess if heart function may be improved by bypass surgery or angioplasty
Evaluate structures around the heart, such as aorta, pulmonary arteries, pericardium (membrane around the heart)


Learn More About ...

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Sentara Heart Hospital
Cardiac Care at Sentara
Patient Safety

Download a brochure for more information on MRIs, including precautions to take.

How do I prepare for my exam?
Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI exam vary. For some types of exams, you will be asked to fast for 3 hours.

Patients may be required to receive an injection of contrast material. Some conditions, such as severe kidney disease may prohibit the use of contrast material. Women should inform their physician if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you are claustrophobic or anxious, you may want to ask your physician for a prescription for a mild sedative to take in advance of your exam.

Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home before the MRI scan because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit.

It is important for us to know if you have any metal in your body before your MRI scan is performed. The MRI uses a very strong magnet that may create movement of certain metal objects in your body.

In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients for metal implants, except for a few types. Patients with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter an MRI scanning area unless explicitly instructed to do so by a radiologist or technologist who is aware of the presence of any of the following:

Pacemaker or Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD)
Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels.
Any implanted mechanical or electrical device (i.e. cochlear or stapes ear implant, magnetic dentures, spinal stimulator, etc.)
Some types of brain aneurysm clips

Knowing the make and model of the implanted device is helpful.

How is the test performed?
Patients will change into a gown and remove all metallic objects. Electrodes will be attached to the chest to monitor heart rhythm.  Once you are lying down on an imaging table, an imaging coil will be secured over your chest. 

If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or tech will insert an IV line into a vein in your arm. A saline solution may be used to prevent blockage of the IV line until the contrast material is injected.

Once that is set up, you will then be moved into the MRI scanner. You healthcare providers will make you as comfortable in the scanner as possible.

For the most part, patients will lie quietly while the scan is taking place. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds when pictures are taken of your heart.  You will know when images are being recorded because you will hear tapping or thumping sounds when the coils that generate the radiofrequency pulses are activated.

 The entire examination is usually completed within one to three hours once imaging has started.

Are there risks?
A cardiac MRI test is safe.  Patients are not exposed to radiation and side effects are rare.

How will I find out the results?

A cardiologist will review your test and provide a report to your physician. 

Cardiovascular MRI Location: 
Advanced Imaging Center at Sentara Heart Hospital, Norfolk

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

More information and video:
American College of Cardiology

Learn More About:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Sentara Heart Hospital
Cardiac Care at Sentara
Patient Safety

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