Cardiac MRI

Rhode Island Hospital is now offering a cardiac MRI program as a valuable diagnostic tool. Cardiac MRI has advantages over traditional methods for diagnosing heart problems, such as echocardiograms, nuclear medicine studies and CT scans.

A cardiac MRI
The heart during a cardiac MRI exam.(Photo copyright RI Hospital)

It is a safer method because it produces no ionizing radiation. It allows for three-dimensional imaging, and its contrast agent has a very safe profile. Avances in the hardware and pulse sequence design allow radiologists to have high temporal resolution, allowing them to view something moving quickly, and no other technology allows a radiologist to visualize a heart attack and pinpoint its size and location.

The use of cardiac MRI provides remarkably clear and detailed images, including the:

  • size and thickness of the chambers of the heart
  • extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease
  • build-up of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels, making it an invaluable tool for detecting and evaluating coronary artery disease
  • function of the heart muscles, valves and vessels through movie-like images of the beating heart that doctors can then use to diagnose a variety of cardiovascular problems that may not have been previously detected.

After a heart attack an MRI examination can help the cardiologist understand how well the heart is pumping, whether the flow of blood is blocked in any chamber or major vessel, if the heart muscles are damaged, or if the lining of the heart is swelling.

It allows physicians to:

  • Look closely at the structures and function of the heart and major vessels quickly and thoroughly, without utilizing more invasive procedures.
  • Obtain critical information needed to administer prompt and effective treatment.
  • Offer earlier diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and assess recovery after treatment.