Diagnostic Tests & Procedures
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MRI

Patient getting prepared for MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) takes advantage of the natural magnetism of the body to image organs and blood vessels. Unlike CT, there is therefore no radiation risk. The resolution of the pictures is not quite as good as with CT, but MRI is able to better distinguish normal from abnormal (tumors, infection, etc.) tissue. Larger arteries are able to be imaged with the use of an intravenous dye – one that is different from the dye used in x-ray studies and does not cause the same allergic reactions. Recent, more powerful MRI scanners have allowed for the imaging the heart.

Cardiac MRI (CMR)

The advent of more powerful magnets and specialized electronics has allowed for the application of MRI to the heart. In some ways one can think of cardiac MR as a fancy echocardiogram – often providing more precise information regarding heart structure and function. Neither test has any radiation risk. There is certain information that is best assessed by cardiac MR. The most important of these questions is whether the heart muscle is permanently damaged or viable so that an angioplasty or by-pass operation may improve its strength.

What to expect:

  • No special preparation
  • Must lie still for 1 -1 1/2 hours – music and sedation often help
  • No recovery time  


MR Angiography (MRA)

MR is able to adequately visualize medium to large-sized arteries and, although the resolution is less than for CT, often answers all of the clinical questions without radiation exposure or use of iodine-containing dye.

What to expect:

  • No special preparation
  • Must lie still for 1 -1 1/2 hours – music and sedation often help
  • No recovery time
Southcoast Physicians Group An affiliate of Southcoast Physicians Group.