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Cardiac MRI


Children’s National Heart Institute offers Cardiac MRI to diagnose and guide treatment for patients with congenital heart disease. Cardiac MRI is noninvasive and is performed without radiation. The images are high resolution and show the moving heart and vascular structures, providing improved visualization of the anatomy. Cardiac MRI also can be used to accurately measure heart size and function, cardiac output, blood flow volumes, and pressure gradients.

Cardiac 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.

Through a partnership with the National Institutes of Health, Children’s National offers Interventional Cardiac MRI. This Cardiac-specific MRI is configured for cardiac diagnosis, evaluation, and intervention of newborns and children with congenital heart disease. The facility allows for MRI and catheterization procedures to often be performed on the same day, reducing sedation and the number of procedures needed. Learn more about our Interventional Cardiac MRI.

Types of cardiac MRIs offered at Children’s include:
  • Sedated and non-sedated
  • Anatomic imaging
  • Physiologic studies
  • Perfusion imaging
  • Interventional cardiac MRI (with Cardiac Catheterization)
Magnetic resonance imaging is one of the fastest growing diagnostic tools in pediatric cardiology. Children’s 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. The cardiac imaging team works closely with Children’s Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology Division to provide world-class care to patients.

Cardiac MRI studies typically require 60-90 minutes to perform, and young children or other individuals who have difficulty remaining still may require sedation. - Departments & Programs - Children's National Medical Center