Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Children's Hospital Logo
Connect With Us:

Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

Children's Hospital Logo
Printer friendly version of this page  E-mail someone a link to this pageBookmark and Share

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) uses a large donut-shaped MRI machine to produce detailed images of your child's heart. Children need special care, both physically and emotionally, during the cardiac MRI session. Our MRI team works exclusively with children and teens. They have the training and experience to keep your child comfortable while providing exceptional images that help our heart team offer better diagnosis and treatment.

What is an MRI?
Cardiac MRI roomMRI machines use magnets and radio waves to show detailed images of the heart. This type of imaging does not expose your child to radiation.

Your child lies on a table inside the MRI ring. Nothing touches your child during the session, but they need to remain still. Our sedation experts provide safe and effective medicines to children who need help staying still and calm.

A MRI technologist and a pediatric cardiologist remain with your child and talk with them during the entire process. A cardiologist watches over your child and reviews the images for quality. The MRI does not hurt, but it does make loud banging noises. We give children earplugs or earphones to help them relax.

When we request a cMRI
All patients do not need a cardiac MRI. We use it for specific groups of patients and specific heart problems. At Children's Hospital, the most common referrals include:

  • Teens and adult with previous surgical repair of congenital heart defects
  • Evaluations of great vessel anomalies (aortic arch, pulmonary arteries, systemic and pulmonary veins)
  • Evaluation of ventricular size and function in patients with poor echocardiographic windows
  • Evaluation of heart tissue in patients with suspected myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, heart tumors, clots, pericardial disease and certain arrhythmias

Sedation and anesthesia
It is important for the patient to remain still during an MRI. The procedure lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. Most patients older than age eight can tolerate the procedure and perform breath-holds during the MRI. Children younger than eight require general anesthesia, provided by Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesia. We can also give sedatives to older patients who experience claustrophobia.

Reasons we cannot order an MRI
Patients that have pacemakers or defibrillators will not receive an MRI. Other devices such as stents, coils, or prosthetic valves will not prevent your child from the possibility of having a cMRI, although they may cause the heart images to look blurry.

How the procedure works
You will be contacted in advance with the date and time of your appointment for your child's MRI. You will receive a map to the diagnostic imaging department.

Patients cannot wear any metal, such as jewelry, during the scan. If your child requires anesthesia, we will let you know when they should start fasting. Many studies require injecting a contrast fluid through an IV.

Parents may accompany a child that is not scheduled for anesthesia. Family members present during the MRI must also remove all metal objects, such as jewelry, buttons, or coins.

Patients may listen to a MUSIC during the test.

After the procedure, the cardiologist will determine if further imaging is necessary and meet with you to discuss preliminary findings.

Last Edited: June 8, 2016
Valued Participant of Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network