Treatments and Services
Cardiac MRI Program
What is cardiac MRI?
Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a noninvasive test that uses radio waves, magnets and a computer to create moving and still pictures of the heart and major blood vessels. Depending on what is needed, the scan may be used to create 2D or 3D images.
Cardiac MRI is one of the most advanced imaging techniques. It is considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing problems with the heart’s chambers (ventricles). It does not expose your child to radiation.
Cardiac MRI lets your child’s heart doctor (pediatric cardiologist) and radiologist examine the heart’s muscle, valves and chambers (structure) and how well blood flows through the heart (function).
It is especially helpful when other tests, like echocardiography, can’t provide enough detailed information about the heart’s anatomy and ability to work as expected. Learn more about MRI (PDF) (Spanish).
What is the Cardiac MRI Program?
Seattle Children’s Cardiac MRI Program provides child- and teen-focused MRI testing and interpretation. We perform about 300 cardiac MRIs each year.
Our team of pediatric specialists uses the latest technology to create very detailed images of your child’s heart to diagnose and plan treatment for congenital heart defects and conditions, including:
- Cardiac rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias)
- Cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle)
- Coarctation of the aorta
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Transposition of the great arteries
- Truncus arteriosus
- Single ventricle defects
What’s special about the Cardiac MRI Program at Seattle Children’s?
All our providers are board-certified in pediatrics, which means that they have extra training and years of experience caring for kids. We only do tests that we feel are medically needed and avoid unnecessary testing.
Your child’s cardiac MRI scan will be done by a cardiologist, radiologist and technologist working together. They will plan and carry out the scan based on your child’s unique needs.
Using cardiac MRI means we are able to accurately diagnose your child’s condition while reducing your child’s exposure to radiation. The 3D images created with cardiac MRI are also used for planning complex repair procedures.
How long does a cardiac MRI scan take?
The test may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Depending on your child’s age, they might be given medicine to make them sleep (anesthesia) before the scan.
After the scan, it takes a few days to process the images. Your child’s cardiologist will meet with you to discuss the results of the scan.
Who’s on the Cardiac MRI team?
If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s provider for a referral.
If you need a language interpreter, call 866-583-1527, extension 2089, and select option 1 for scheduling and then option 2 for MRI.
Please note that cardiac MRIs take 1 week for radiologist approval. Please wait at least 1 week after your provider orders the exam to call and schedule.