Heart Rhythm Community
12.1k Members
12182312 tn?1427687556

Heart MRI

Hi guys
Has anyone ever had one of these done. I have to have one and I am so claustrophobic. Will my head be in or out of the machine. How long does it usually take?
12 Responses
1423357 tn?1511089042
Hey Kelle619.  It's almost a certain that you will be positioned head-first into the tube.  I say almost because new equipment is coming online constantly; short-bore, as well as patient friendlier large bore diameter machines.  The time you spend in the MRI may be 15 to 30 minutes depending on how many passes they need.  You may also have an IV line in your arm to inject a contrast dye during the procedure.  Additionally, you will probably wear an elastic belt around the upper part of your chest which keeps track of your breathing so the MRI can be triggered at the appropriate moment in your breathing cycle.  Some places provide a head set with music, and in every case of my MRI's, and I've had a number of them :) , hearing protection in the form of foam earplugs were provided.  If you're claustrophobic, you might want to ask you physician AHEAD OF TIME to provide a prescription for a single Vallium to be taken at the appropriate time before you exam to mellow you out fir the test.  However that may require you to be transported to and from the exam by a driver.  Hope it goes well!
995271 tn?1463927859
I had one, with dye so I was on an IV too.  Newer machines can process it faster so the timing varies.   I was in a small bore for about 2 hours but the newer ones can be done in 60 to 90 minutes.  You have to wear a 12 lead EKG. Don't let the EKG scare you, it's not for monitoring you per se.  The EKG is used to time the pictures.  Your heart is always in motion so they need to know what it's doing to get the timing right and that's what the EKG is for.  You also wear something to monitor your resperitsion because that needs to be timed too.      They also place an antenna on your chest to pick up the signals.   The MRI is loud.   I'm not claustrophobic but I had a hard time towards the end.   I can get panic attacks and I started to towards the end.  They were picking this up on EKG.   They can't get pictures if the rate goes over a certain point.  I had head phones on so they could talk to me and the tech asked me what was wrong so I said give me a minute and I got myself calmed down and they were able to complete the pictures.    

Cardiac MRI is one the tougher ones to get through.  They will ask you if you're claustrophobic.  Obviously let them know and they should be able to help you with anti anxiety meds.  They put a fan at the head-end and that helped, with air moving through.   They also piped music into my head phones.  I also had a blanket on.  Because they use dye, they had to drip me with IV the entire time and I had to pee so bad.  Make sure your bladder is empty before going in especially if you have dye.  

Talk to them about it before you go to have a strategy ready to get through it.   I didn't need meds,  I've gotten good at controlling panic.  If I had to do it again I would be confident there would be no problems.   When it as over I thought, hey that wasn't so Bad!

Call them ahead of time.  There won't be enough time to discuss at the appointment. Things move fast once you get there so get out ahead of it by calling them and discussing.  They know how to make you comfortable.  You could also research if there is a facility in your area that can do cardiac MRI in an open machine.   Not sure if his is possible though, last I checked they could only do cardiac MRI in a closed bore but that was back in 2009 for me.  
Ah yes!  I forgot about the EKG leads and the antenna array.  My recollection was that the leads didn't exit the bore, but interfaced with the antenna which was kind of placed around my pelvis if I remember correctly.  Regardless, that's something that won't affect the "user experience".  I had mine done in 2010, and I don't recall the process taking that long; perhaps 30 minutes.  One thing to do is before they slide you in, make sure that you're comfortable.  Adjust the pillow to your liking, and  put a pillow under the knees to lift them even slightly.  It makes a world of difference when the small of the back is in full contact with the table.  I'm sure that in 5 years, MRI technology has further advanced.  My wife had an interesting MRI when she had her breast cancer.  She had a face down MRI which allowed her ummm... bosom to drop into appropriately sized and molded cups.  The table kind of resembled a massage table with the opening for the face.
995271 tn?1463927859
P.s.  They had to do a test run to get the position of the antenna right and adjust.  So they had to stop and come into the room, pull me out,mad just, put me back in.    Don't let that worry you.    You'll figure it out, don't be hesitant to take anti anxiety meds.    
12182312 tn?1427687556
Thank you both so very much. You gave me great information and put my mind at rest. I also suffer from horrible panic attacks and anxiety. I'm getting a ton of heart testing done to find out why and what kind of arrhythmia I have. My heartbeat is off the wall. To the point where I'm constantly, and I mean this literally, dizzy. I will let them know ahead of time and also I have no problem asking about the anti anxiety meds lol. Also if you know, what will a cardiac mri show? And for Tom, how is your wife doing. I will let you guys know how it goes. Positive thoughts please ;)
Lumpectomy, radiation, 5 years of Tamoxifen drug theapy, and so far, so good!
995271 tn?1463927859
Cardiac MRI s are a great test!   They do many different types of scans that show many different things, and cross sections.  Things like muscle thickness, muscle movement, artery flow (dye test), muscle composition, valves, valve movement, volumes, muscle structures.   I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.  I have a link below.  Copy and paste this and you will see a movie made from my MRI.  It's I think 10'slices moving up from my belly towards my head.  In one of the slices, the large pumping charmer is my left ventricle. This ruled out ARVD for me.  


Best of luck, hang in there!  
995271 tn?1463927859
*charmer was supposed to be chamber, dang auto correct!  Lol

Also, MRI is probably the best test you can get.  A heart cath with dye can do some other things better but MRI can pretty much measure what a heart cath would, plus much more.  Just my humble opinion.  
12182312 tn?1427687556
Thank you so much. Can it show coronary artery disease? Also can it tell what type of arrhythmia I have. I am now wearing a event monitor also. What was your diagnosis, if any?
It can show coronary artery disease.  It won't show type of arrhythmia, that is shown on EKG really well.  My diagnosis was a health heart, nothing wrong with it.  I actually had some "remission" from my 2009 issues over time, but it still comes and goes to a lesser extent.  In 2009 I was getting about 6,000 PVCs per day.
12182312 tn?1427687556
One more question, so sorry.
What is a heart cath?
Heart catheterization where they thread a catheter (cath) through your leg up to your heart, then they inject die.  They watch how it flows through the arteries to see how clogged they are.  MRI can get this too.
12182312 tn?1427687556
Also I see you are from PA. Where about. I was born and raised in Philadelphia.
Born and raised in Philly too.  Torresdale section.
I lived in Mayfair at Frankford and Visr
...Frankford and Vista for 12 years...
Tom_h, we were neighbors!  I'm a Judge grad, '85.
Avatar universal
Hey, when you say your heartbeat is 'off the wall', what do you mean exactly? If you're having constant rhythm problems, wouldn't a simple EKG pick it up? Are you sure your dizziness is related to your heart? As far as I know in order for a heart problem to cause dizziness there has to be reduced blood flow to the brain and I'm sure there are tests a lot more simple than a cardiac MRI that could give you some idea on what's going on.

Not saying don't get one as I'd love a cardiac MRI in all honesty, just to see if there is anything going on as my heartbeat is all over the place but it's not due to PVCs/PACs.

I'm also dizzy very often and I also suffer from anxiety so I'm wondering if the dizziness is due to the anxiety rather than an arrhythmia?

Have you been diagnosed with anything?
1423357 tn?1511089042
That's great to hear!  My wife was a "Bambi"; 1968 grad.  She use to do the school plays at Fr. Judge.  In 1987, we moved across the river to NJ, and in 2000, moved to MA.  My kids though still live across the river in Cinnaminson and Cherry Hill.  I'm retiring at the end of the year and planning to move to Cape May to be nearer the kids.  The drive from MA to PHL area is typically 4 hours, but it's the drive thru Hades. I've logged 100,000 miles driving back and forth for the last 15 years.  I'm ready to scooch my toes into that South Jersey beach sand for the rest of my days!
995271 tn?1463927859
I love cape may!   Great place to live!   They tried to close st Hubert's and combine that with judge but there was a big appeal and they kept it open.   I settled in the lansdale area, Harleysville.  Love it here.  
Have an Answer?
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1807132 tn?1318747197
Chicago, IL
1423357 tn?1511089042
Central, MA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
Salt in food can hurt your heart.
Get answers to your top questions about this common — but scary — symptom
How to know when chest pain may be a sign of something else
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.