Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Heart

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radiowaves to produce data that are translated by computer into high-resolution images. This method of examination identifies the exact anatomy and heart function in patients with heart defects and helps our doctors to make important decisions concerning patients’ treatment. The examination requires no X-ray exposure and is therefore suitable for treatment and follow-up imaging. Our hospital has two state-of-the-art MRI scanners.

The great advantage of MRI is that in a single examination it provides information on the anatomy, function and nature of tissue. MRI is often superior to other imaging procedures because it allows exact measurements to be taken, without using X-rays. For the diagnosis of heart disease it is important that MRI enables high-resolution soft tissue contrast, facilitating tissue characterization. It is therefore the diagnostic method of choice in many situations.

Areas of Application

Following a myocardial infarction parts of the heart muscle no longer work properly. MRI can identify which parts are affected and which are still vital, independently of when the infarction took place. This can be particularly important before bypass operations and catheter procedures.

MRI is also useful in patients with a suspected perfusion disorder of the heart muscle. During the examination medication the patient can be given medication that simulates temporary strain on the heart. This enables the doctor to see how well the heart is supplied with blood and which areas are insufficiently supplied (adenosine stress MRI or dobutamine stress MRI). Stress MRI is safe and enables a high degree of diagnostic accuracy.

Inflammation of the heart muscle is a disease that can lead to permanent weakness of the heart as well as to sudden cardiac death. Diagnosis using ECG or echocardiography can be difficult and MRI is often helpful. Inflammation of the heart muscle and the pericardium (heart sac) can be directly imaged by MRI.

When a congenital heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) is suspected, MRI can deliver important additional information for the correct diagnosis and during progress monitoring.

MRI is regularly applied to visualize blood vessels (angiography) in the whole cardiovascular system.

Diagnostic MRI at the German Heart Center Berlin

At the German Heart Center Berlin we have used MRI since 1996 and our hospital has played a leading role in the development of this diagnostic method from the beginning. In 2001 the CMR Academy was founded as a subsidiary company to pass on our professional knowledge in individual courses to radiologists, cardiologist and nuclear medicine specialists from all over the world. As one of few centers in Germany our hospital was certified by the German Society for Cardiology as a training center for cardiac MRI in 2015.