What is MRI?
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. MRI is a form of scanning that uses powerful magnets, radio waves and a computer to create pictures of the organs inside your body.
Why Do I Need an MRI?
MRI is used to diagnose certain diseases or conditions or to give your doctor more information about a condition you may already have. Some of the things your doctor might be looking for during cardiac MRI (MRI of the heart) include:
- Damage to the heart after a heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
- Congenital heart defects
- Pericarditis (an inflammation of the protective sac that surrounds your heart)
What Happens During MRI?
During MRI, you will lie on your back on a sliding table that will take you into a machine that’s shaped like a tunnel. You will be asked to lie still as the pictures are made, and may even be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time. You may be injected with a contrast agent that will help to enhance the pictures.
When the machine is started, it will make loud humming, tapping and buzzing noises as it takes pictures of your heart. You should not feel any pain during MRI.
Wake Forest Baptist Health uses state-of-the-art MRI equipment to perform its scans, which results in very detailed images. These images provide important information to assist your physician in diagnosing your medical condition and/or planning your course of treatment.
Is MRI Safe?
There are very few risks associated with the use of MRI. Unlike x-rays or computerized tomography (CT) scans, MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which in some circumstances has been associated with an increased risk of future cancer.
If you have any type of implanted metal in your body, or if you have any implanted devices (for example, a pacemaker), MRI may not be the best test for you. Wake Forest has special screening procedures to determine if the implanted metal or devices are not compatible with scanning or whether they would interfere with your scan.
In rare cases of those who happen to receive MR contrast, the contrast agent can cause an allergic reaction. Also, in patients with kidney failure, the contrast agent can cause an unusual, potentially harmful skin condition. For this reason, if contrast is planned, a blood test may be performed to check your kidney function.