What Is a Cardiac MRI?

A cardiac MRI is a special type of MRI exam designed to look at the structure and function of the heart. It takes about 90 minutes.

A cardiac MRI uses contrast injected through an IV. Contrast helps improve the clarity of images to make a diagnosis more accurate. It works by making some tissues and structures stand out from others so radiologists can see them more clearly.

The benefits of using contrast typically outweigh any potential risk. We carefully asses your risk before giving you contrast.

Learn more about MRI

How to Prepare for a Cardiac MRI

You can log into Patient Gateway for more details on your specific appointment.
  • When to Arrive - Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • Screening Call - Expect to get a phone call from our MRI staff about three days before your appointment. We will ask you questions about allergies and implants. The call helps make sure we have everything ready for you when you arrive. During this call, please let us know if you'd like interpreter services during your appointment so we have enough time to coordinate support.
  • Implants - Please let our MRI staff know if you have anything metal or electronically implanted in your body. Bring information about any metal or electronic implants in your body to your appointment. We will need to make sure it is safe for you to have an MRI with it in place.
  • Eating and Drinking - You can eat and drink as you normally would before your appointment. The only exception is no caffeine.
  • Claustrophobia - Ask your doctor about medicine to help you relax during your appointment if you have a fear of small spaces. We don't have anything in our department that we can give you. Please be mindful of your means of transportation when taking medicine to relax for your MRI.
  • Clothing - Please wear clothes that are easy to change out of. All MRI patients at Mass General change into hospital attire for safety.
  • Valuables - Valuables are not allowed in the exam room. Lockers are available, but we suggest you leave your valuables at home.
  • Children - If you need to bring kids to your appointment, please bring someone to watch them in the waiting room. MRI staff cannot be responsible for supervising minor children during the appointment.

What to Expect at a Cardiac MRI Exam

Find out what happens when you come to Mass General Imaging for your cardiac MRI exam. During COVID, we are taking unprecedented steps to keep our patients safe. We have adjusted our operations and physical space so you may notice some enhanced safety measures when you visit.

Patient Resources

Use these patient resources to answer other questions about your appointment. You can also contact us if you need any help.

listen to an mri
Listen to an MRI

Listen to an MRI

Hear the variations in sound as electricity passes through the scanner.

checking in
Checking In

Checking In

Find out what happens when you check and why we keep asking for your date of birth.

MRI exam with contrast
MRI and IV Contrast

MRI and IV Contrast

Learn why we use IV contrast for some MRI exams.

mri and pregnancy
MRI and Pregnancy

MRI and Pregnancy

Learn about having an MRI when you're pregnant.

patient gateway
Patient Gateway

Patient Gateway

Check Patient Gateway to manage your health and get in touch with your doctor's office.