Cardiac MRI Provides 3-D Images Of Beating Heart
September 22, 2009
While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology has been available for more than two decades, imaging the heart has been a challenge because the heart is moving and images come out blurry. With the addition of a first-of-its-kind open bore 1.5 Tesla MRI system at Centennial Medical Center, physicians can now obtain amazingly clear and detailed images of the beating heart in real time.
“Our cardiac MRI capabilities allow us to diagnose and treat heart problems more quickly and with greater confidence,” said David C. Huneycutt, M.D., cardiologist and cardiac MRI specialist at Centennial Medical Center. “Cardiac MRI gives us the best possible view of the heart’s chambers and the characteristics of the heart muscle itself. The procedure is fast, very accurate, and most important for the patient, completely non-invasive, radiation-free and painless.”
According to Dr. Huneycutt, conventional methods for imaging the heart can sometimes fall short in providing accurate information for guiding treatments, particularly for such conditions as coronary artery disease, heart failure and congenital heart disease.
“The image quality of cardiac MRI surpasses that of more commonly used imaging techniques and allows us to view the heart and blood vessels from different angles and create moving images of the heart throughout its beating cycle,” Dr. Huneycutt said. “We can see how well the heart muscle is contracting and precisely identify areas of damaged tissue.”
One of the main advantages of cardiac MRI, according to Dr. Huneycutt, is that it allows physicians to distinguish viable heart muscle from scar tissue.
“Damaged tissue can look dead using other imaging techniques,” he said. “When we are able to see that the tissue is still alive, we can use techniques like angioplasty or bypass surgery to re-supply the tissue with nourishing blood flow.”
During an MRI examination, a patient lies still in the large doughnut-shaped magnet of the MRI machine. The machine uses the magnet and radiofrequency waves to produce computerized images of the heart and its structures. Because the procedure is non-invasive, the patient does not have to fast.
The MRI system used at Centennial Medical Center has a larger bore than traditional MRI systems, eliminating the feelings of confinement and claustrophobia that can come with having an MRI. The MRI can accommodate patients up to 550 lbs. With almost one foot of free space between the patient’s head and the magnet, the patient experience is similar to having a CT scan. Furthermore, patients can go into the scanner feet first or even lie on their belly.
Located in Nashville, Centennial Medical Center, part of TriStar Health System, is a 615-bed facility that is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). One of Tennessee’s most complete medical facilities, the hospital campus is home to The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center at Centennial, The Women’s Hospital at Centennial, Centennial Heart Center as well as Parthenon Pavilion, one of the oldest and largest full-service psychiatric facilities in the region. Round-the-clock care is also available at Centennial Medical Center at Ashland City, a critical access hospital in nearby Cheatham County. For more information about Centennial Medical Center, call TriStar MedLine at 615-342-1919 or 800-242-5662 or go to TriStarHealth.com and click on Centennial Medical Center.