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What extra images does the gadolinium contrast provide for MRI that one without contrast doesn't?

I had a cardiac MRI with the contrast...What extra images does the gadolinium contrast provide that one without contrast doesn't? The MRI was completely normal, as was an echo done about 6 months earlier. The cardiologist I see basically said I no longer need to see him, a primary care physician would be enough.

submitted by Richard from Pennsylvania on 3/28/2013


by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Benjamin Y. Cheong, MD    Benjamin Y. Cheong, MD

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMRI) is an imaging modality that can provide comprehensive evaluation of the heart and a lot of useful information to the Cardiologist and Primary Care Physician. In certain instance, CMRI can provide higher image quality than echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound), and can look into parts of the heart that echocardiography occasionally does not see well (such as the right side of the heart and the tip of heart [apex]). 

Gadolinium is a contrast agent used mostly with CMRI. It helps the clinicians to look at the major blood supply of the body (the aorta) and more importantly, with gadolinium, CMRI can provide a very useful technique called Delayed-enhancement MRI, where the presence or absence of previous heart attack and injury could be detected. This can only be performed by CMRI (sometimes also by CT, but need radiation and iodine contrast). Hence, depending on the reason for the examination, the use of the gadolinium with CMRI can  provide the most comprehensive information.

You can always discuss with your cardiologist the indications and specific results of your CMRI.         

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Updated April 2013
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