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Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Maria Fareri Children's Hospital offers state-of-the-art modalities for imaging the heart non-invasively. Cardiac MRI (cMRI/CMR) is a non-invasive imaging test utilizing specialized technologies to create both still and moving pictures of the heart . It is one of the fastest growing diagnostic tools in pediatric cardiology and is quickly becoming the diagnostic standard of care for many children with congenital and acquired heart diseases. The hospital houses the most advanced cardiac MRI system currently available. MFCH uses this emerging technology to produce very accurate images of the inside and outside of the heart, allowing many patients to avoid more invasive procedures.

At Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, the division of Pediatric Cardiology works closely with the Department of Radiology together providing cutting-edge cardiac MRI and MR angiography, cardiac CT for patients with congenital cardiac abnormalities.

Dr. Supriya Jain is a pediatric cardiologist and holds joint appointments in Pediatrics and Radiology. With close collaboration with Dr. Amar Shah, from radiology, the duo work together in planning specific protocols and are able to capture anatomic and physiologic details that were previously unattainable. Ours is one of only a few pediatric programs to have a Cardiac MRI program run jointly by a pediatric cardiologist and a cardiac radiologist.

In addition, there are expert MR and CT technologists who have specialized training in cardiovascular imaging and will guide you or your child through the potentially unfamiliar process with empathy and compassion.

With state of the art 1.5 Tesla and 3.0 Tesla MRI machines located in the main hospital facility, highly detailed images of the heart and blood vessels are acquired and processed into three dimensional renderings using advanced post processing workstations and software, providing surgeons and cardiologists with unique insights into complex anatomy and physiology. Adolescents and young adults with congenital heart disease are also imaged at our outpatient facilities where additional 1.5T and 3.0T state of the art MR scanners are located.

The study is performed without radiation exposure, and can yield high resolution images of the moving heart and vascular structures that are not limited by body size or other anatomic constraints. In addition to improved visualization of complex anatomy, cardiac MRI can also be used to accurately measure hemodynamic parameters such as heart size and function, cardiac output, blood flow volumes, and pressure gradients. Cardiac MRI studies typically require 60-90 minutes to perform, and young children or other individuals who have difficulty remaining still may require sedation.

In many cases, a contrast agent is used to create 3-D pictures of the blood vessels connected to the heart to help guide medical and/or surgical decision making. The contrast can also help identify areas of scaring in the heart if it has been injured by certain disorders or prior surgeries. MRI is used to diagnose congenital heart defects and provide noninvasive evaluation for complex conditions, such as Tetralogy of Fallot, coarctation of the aorta, certain rhythm abnormalities, cardiomyopathies, and patients with single ventricle anatomy.

MRI also is used extensively in older adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease to obtain a more complete noninvasive cardiac evaluation, which can sometimes be limited with echocardiography due to body size.

Pediatric Cardiac MRI Uniqueness

Cardiac MRI is unique in that it does not use radiation and thus has no potential to increase the risk of cancer. This is especially important in infants and children, women, and patients that have already had to receive substantial amounts of radiation in the past because of necessary procedures or tests like cardiac catheterizations’, x-rays and /or CT scans.