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Why is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart performed?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart (a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images) may be performed for further evaluation of signs or symptoms that may suggest:
  • atherosclerosis -- a gradual clogging of the arteries over many years by fatty materials and other substances in the bloodstream
  • cardiomyopathy -- an enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle
  • congenital heart disease -- defects in one or more heart structures that occur during formation of the fetus, such as a ventricular septal defect (hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart)
  • congestive heart failure -- a condition in which the heart muscle has become weakened to an extent that blood cannot be pumped efficiently, causing buildup (congestion) in the blood vessels, lungs, feet, ankles, and other parts of the body
  • aneurysm -- a dilation of a part of the heart muscle or the aorta (the large artery that carries oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body), which may cause weakness of the tissue at the site of the aneurysm
  • valvular heart disease -- malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may cause an obstruction of the blood flow within the heart
  • cardiac tumor -- a tumor of the heart that may occur on the outside surface of the heart, within one or more chambers of the heart (intracavitary), or within the muscle tissue of the heart
There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend an MRI of the heart.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.