Cardiovascular MRI is a non-invasive diagnostic tool to evaluate the heart/aortic structure, function and flow. It is a painless procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images. A single MRI study produces hundreds of images without exposure to radiation.

Cardiovascular MRI is used to evaluate numerous heart/vascular conditions including:

  • Heart muscle scarring caused by a heart attack or other disorders
  • Precise evaluation of heart “squeeze” performance (i.e., ejection fraction)
  • Aortic aneurysms or other aortic conditions
  • Valvular disorders such as heart valve regurgitation or stenosis
  • Cardiomyopathy (any disease involving the heart muscle) or cardiac masses (e.g., tumors)
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) or myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation)
  • Congenital heart diseases
  • Defining cardiovascular anatomy/structures

A physician’s order is required to complete a cardiovascular MRI study.

Cardiovascular MRI Study: What to Expect

After you arrive at the imaging center and are situated in a private area, your chest will be cleaned and shaved (if required) prior to the placement of electrocardiogram stickers and leads, which allow your heart rhythm to be tracked during the MRI.  Once positioned on the exam table, you can expect the following:

  • A device will be placed on your chest that sends/receives radio waves and assists with acquiring images.
  • A respiratory gating belt will be placed around your abdomen to track your breathing.
  • If contrast material is required for your study, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line into a vein located in your hand or arm.
  • Headphones will be provided.

During your study, you will be positioned into the magnet of the MRI machine and the technologist will leave the room. You will be able to communicate at any point with the technologist, as he or she is able to see, hear and speak with you during your study. While the device is acquiring images, you will be asked to hold your breath. You will hear tapping or thumping sounds as the MRI creates images. You can relax between images; however, you must remain as still as possible during the exam.

The entire examination typically takes 60-90 minutes to complete.  If you are claustrophobic or do not think that you can lie still for this amount of time, it is important to let the physician who has ordered the study know ahead of time.

St. David’s HealthCare has invested in the latest MRI technology and cardiovascular MRI software. Study interpretation is provided exclusively by cardiologists with dedicated training in the field of cardiovascular MRI and years of experience in advanced multi-modality cardiovascular imaging.  Cardiovascular MRI studies are conducted at St. David’s Outpatient Imaging Center located at:

St. David’s Medical Center
919 East 32nd Street
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 341-6414

You may access St. David’s Outpatient Imaging Center by parking in Garage 4 at St. David’s Medical Center.