MRI/MRA Cardiac

Your doctor has recommended you for either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of your chest and heart. MR imaging procedures use a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed images organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures.

Cardiac MRI imaging is performed to help evaluate the structures and function of the heart, valves, major vessels, and surrounding structures; diagnose and manage a variety of cardiovascular problems; detect and evaluate the effects of coronary artery disease. The angiography procedure is specifically designed to examine the heart and the blood vessels entering your lungs. Using cardiac MRI, physicians can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart; determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease; and detect the buildup of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels.

Our team of physicians, nurses and technologists is led by our chief of Cardiac Imaging and Nuclear Cardiology, Daniel S. Berman, MD. Louise Thomson, MBChB, also performs many of our MRI/MRA chest exams.

Before Arriving at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center

  • You can print and fill out the Cardiac Imaging Questionnaire, the MRI Questionnaire, and the MRI and Pregnancy form, if applicable, from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.
  • You may eat and drink before this exam.
  • If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai will not prescribe such medications for you.
  • If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
  • For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time. You may also bring a CD to listen to during the procedure.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing.

After Arriving

  • You must tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have, and if you are pregnant or are nursing.
  • You will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which will help determine if an MRI is safe for you. Cardiac MRI is safe with joint replacements, coronary stents, ASD/PFO closure devices, sternal wires and most prosthetic heart valves. MRI cannot be performed on patients with pacemakers, defibrillators or other implanted electronic devices. Patients with a history of other metallic implants, shrapnel or neurosurgical clips are all individually evaluated before MRI.

During the Exam

A cardiac MRA of the ascending aorta.

  • You will be positioned on the scanning table head-first with your arms at your side.
  • Coils (special devices to improve image quality) may be placed on or around your chest. The scanning table will slide your entire body into the magnet.
  • During the scan you will not feel anything, but you will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise and to allow you to listen to music.
  • In most cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images.
  • The contrast agent is injected into a vein in the arm, and may cause a cool sensation.
  • As pictures are taken, you must hold very still, and in some cases, hold your breath for up to 25 seconds.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.
  • The MRI exam will take approximately 120 minutes.

After Your Exam

  • There are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat or drive as normal, although if you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Your films will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.