MRI harnesses the natural energy of the body, amplified through a magnetic field, to produce a high resolution image without any ionising radiation. At Western Radiology, we use the latest advances in MRI sequences that often allow us to obtain images without the use of contrast dye, thus eliminating the need for patients’ to receive an injection. MRI imaging of the aorta is widely regarded as the gold standard modality for annual surveillance of people with a dilated aorta (because there is no ionising radiation), or those at risk of tearing of the aorta due to connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome.
Usually a cardiologist or specialist in connective tissue disorders, or your General Practitioner if they are the clinician looking after this condition for you (often the case if your aorta is only mildly dilated).
Patients lie within the MRI bore on an elevated table during the scan, once securely and comfortably positioned by our expert technicians. Technicians provide instructions through headphones, such as when to hold your breath (normally for short intervals) and what to expect next. Contrast is not usually required unless we are also scanning your heart, therefore patients’ to not normally require an injection.
The radiographer will check on arrival that you do not have certain metal objects in or on your body that may preclude you from having a scan (such as cochlear implants, some head aneurysm clips, insulin pumps etc). The duration of the scan is approximately 30 minutes (unless the referring doctor also requires Cardiac MRI, in which case closer to 1-hour is required). Please attend at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time to complete the preparation for the scan. It is advisable to avoid caffeine-rich drinks and alcohol for at least 4 hours (and ideally 12-hours) prior. As you will be lying down for the scan, it may also be best to avoid large meals immediately beforehand. There should be no need to interrupt your normal medications unless advised otherwise by your referring physician or our staff.
Cardiac MRI is a highly sub-specialised imaging modality that requires significant expertise beyond that acquired during standard cardiology or radiology training. Our cardiologist has a specialist interest in Cardiac MRI with years of experience. As a testament to the importance we place on quality, each study at Western Radiology is supervised by our cardiologist who can then individualise the study in real-time to ensure the study is of the highest calibre.