IMAGING: MRI

Heart Study

How it works: An MRI scan uses a powerful magnet, radio frequency waves and a computer that processes the images to take extremely accurate images of organs, soft tissues, bone and internal body structures. It is one of the safest and most comfortable diagnostic imaging studies available. MRIs are measured by teslas (T), the strength of their magnet. The higher the number, the stronger the magnet and the more detailed the image. Oregon Imaging Centers has an open 1.0T, 1.5T and a large bore 3T MRI.

Why we do it: An MRI of the heart creates a multi-dimensional image of your heart while it is beating. The radiologist is examining structural and functional information about the heart itself and surrounding blood vessels.

What to expect:

During your visit, a patient advocate will show you to the changing area to change into scrubs and can assist you if necessary. Our changing rooms offer secure lockers, but we encourage patients to leave valuables at home. Once changed, our patient advocate will guide you to the sub-waiting area where you will find a selection of magazines and newspapers. A staff member will notify you when it is time for your MRI scan and introduce you to the MRI technologist.

The technologist is specially trained and certified by the American Registry of Radiological Technologists to take care of you during your MRI scan. A device called a coil will be placed around the area of your body we are scanning. Once you are comfortable, the technologist will move the table into the MRI scanner. You will be able to speak and hear the MRI technologist over an intercom.

The scan takes from 20-40 minutes depending on the purpose of your scan. There is light and plenty of air within the magnet. The equipment does not touch your body but you will hear buzzing and tapping noises from the machine. These sounds are normal and will last a few minutes. We will supply you with ear plugs and/or headphones. Some patients also find it comforting to wear prism glasses, or other items to cover your eyes, which can help patients who are feeling claustrophobic. We have all these aids available for you.

In addition to the general directions regarding an MRI, please also note: During an MRI study of your heart, you will lie comfortably on your back for up to 60 minutes. Heart studies may require an IV injected contrast agent called gadolinium to help the radiologist visualize certain tissue or blood vessels. Some patients describe a metallic taste or cool sensation after the injection. This is normal and usually subsides quickly. Once your IV is ready, the technologist will move the table into the MRI scanner. We also place EKG leads to monitor the heart rate while in the scanner.

Prep & safety: A quality MRI study is dependent on your ability to remain still for the entirety of the exam. If you are taking any medication, please continue taking it as prescribed. If you feel you may be in too much pain to remain still, please consult your referring physician who may prescribe a pain medication for your study. If you are claustrophobic, please alert your referring provider so they can discuss pre-treatment options with you.

Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.

  • If you have an implanted medical device, be prepared to provide the manufacturer name, model number and device name to the technologist.
  • Jewelry, including piercings, must be removed prior to your study. We encourage you to leave all jewelry at home.
  • You may listen to music during the scan. If you have specific music preferences, please inform your technologist at the time of your scan. (If you prefer something besides the radio, bring your iPod or a CD.)

Please alert your technologist if you:

  • Have renal disease, a kidney transplant, diabetes, or gout.
  • Have a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
  • Have aneurysm clips.
  • Have other implantable devices such as a heart valve, middle ear prosthesis or implanted neurostimulator.
  • Know or suspect that you have metal fragments in or around the eye.

Your results: A highly specialized radiologist will interpret your images and prepare a diagnostic report for your physician within 48 hours. If your exam was ordered “stat” your physician will be notified of the interpretation the same day. Your physician will determine how the radiologists' report can be used to develop a treatment plan and will speak with you about your results.