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Cardiac MRI for Children

What does this test do?

Our team may decide that your child needs a Cardiac MRI, a test that provides detailed information on the type and severity of heart disease, heart valve problems, blood flow problems, congenital issues, tissue damage, pericarditis, tumors, and other conditions.

We also use Cardiac MRIs to help explain results from other tests such as an X-ray or CT scan.

This test is painless.

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and the test uses radio waves, magnets, and special software to take detailed pictures of your child's heart. 

How the test works

We may perform this test in a clinic, a hospital, or at an outpatient center.

An MRI machine is a large, tunnel-like machine that has a table. For this test, a child will have to lie on the table, which then slides into the machine. 

Specially trained technicians with our pediatric cardiology team will be there every step of the way to communicate what is happening.

The machine produces loud humming, tapping, and buzzing sounds as it takes pictures, and your child will have to lie still for the pictures to be effective.

Our pediatric staff provides headphones and other items to make children feel as comfortable as possible during the test. And we allow parents to be in the room as well. 

Sometimes we may have to inject a contrast dye into your child's arm using an IV to help color the heart and blood vessels. Children may feel a slight discomfort from the needle or a cool feeling as the dye is injected. We can apply a topical anesthetic to help. 

A Cardiac MRI can be as short as 30 minutes, and we will talk through the procedure and help relieve any fears your child may have!

How to prepare

You can take these steps to prepare your child before the procedure:

  • Talk to your child about the MRI machine, the sounds, and what to expect.
  • Eat normally and take normal medicine if necessary
  • Parents should explain the test to older children so they understand to remain still during the test.
  • Children must remove any jewelry or metal before the test.
  • We advise parents to give younger children a toy to hold or have them watch videos to help them stay calm. Our staff can also help!

What abnormal results mean

A pediatric cardiologist and pediatric radiologist will interpret the test. 

It's important for parents to remember that some abnormal findings are minor and do not pose risks.

However, some abnormal results may show signs of heart disease. Your primary care doctor, working closely with a pediatric cardiologist, will put an effective treatment plan into action and make sure everyone is informed and on the same page.