Radiology & Imaging has three radiologists specializing in cardiac CT and MRI. The division is directed by Christopher Moore, MD, PhD, and also includes Alena Kreychman, MD; Tara Catanzano, MD; and Njogu Njuguna, MD. The program is strengthened by strong collaborations with Baystate Cardiology, as well as participation by cardiology fellows and upper level radiology residents at the Baystate Medical Center.
Outpatient cardiac MRI exams are performed at Baystate Medical Center, usually on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings, and inpatient studies are performed as needed. A Siemens Espree 1.5 Tesla scanner that is specialized for cardiac imaging is used, and has an enlarged opening to improve patient comfort. During imaging, breath-holds of typically 10-15 seconds are used to eliminate blurring from breathing motion. Imaging is timed to the heart cycle using ECG wires on the chest. Most exams take 45-75 minutes and use an injection of a gadolinium-based contrast agent.
Most Common Reasons to Receive a Cardiac MRI
- Determine severity of a Heart Attack
It is important to know how much heart muscle supplied by a diseased coronary blood vessel is still alive (viable) after a heart attack, and could benefit from restoring blood flow (for example, by bypass surgery). The exam evaluates heart structure and wall motion, and which portions of the heart muscle are dead or alive.
- Abnormal Rhythm
Some diseases cause the heart to lose its normal contraction pattern so that it cannot pump blood effectively. MRI can help determine if genetic heart diseases such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy are present, or if other abnormalities exist that could cause an abnormal rhythm. The exam focuses on wall motion and the muscle of the heart wall.
- Heart Inflammation
Chest pain and decreased heart function can result from infection or inflammation of the heart (myocarditis). MRI can identify many of these processes such as viral myocarditis and sarcoidosis. Similarly, it also can detect build-up of abnormal proteins in the heart, which can occur in people with amyloidosis.
MRI is excellent at evaluating tissues and can help determine if heart masses (sometimes found on ultrasound—echocardiograms) represent fat, blood clot, typically benign tumors, or potentially cancerous growths.
- Abnormal Coronary Artery Origins
Sometimes chest pain or dangerous rhythms can be caused by a coronary artery arising abnormally or following an abnormal course. Cardiac MRI can identify these conditions without x-ray radiation.
- Tetralogy of Fallot Follow Up
Patients with this form of congenital heart disease have abnormal pulmonic valves that often need to be monitored into adulthood. The MRI exam focuses on the pulmonary valve structure, leakage of blood back through the valve, and enlargement of the right ventricle, as well as overall heart function.
We Subspecialize In MRIs Of All Types
Radiology & Imaging’s subspecialized staff includes several radiology physicians who are specifically trained in one or more types of MRIs–brain, spine, body, muscular or other. Their extensive experience in particular types of MRI makes them well equipped to interpret the exam results and consult most effectively with your personal physician.
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