What is Chest MRI?
A chest MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the lungs and its surrounding areas in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels and soft tissues of the lungs are generated using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
The chest MRI helps doctors in detecting diseases and abnormalities in the lungs such as tumors, lung cancer, and lung infection. They also use it to assess the structure and function of the heart and its blood flow. The chest MRI is also used as a supplementary exam to verify the findings of a chest CT scan and chest X-ray.
The MRI of the chest may be done with or without the use of contrast material (dye) that is injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the blood vessels are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Chest MRI?
Your doctor may recommend a chest MRI if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments:
- A cough that won’t go away
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Unexplained chest pain and fatigue
- Chest tightness or wheezing (noisy breathing)
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent chest infections
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Sudden weight loss
What is the Purpose of a Chest MRI?
Your doctor may recommend an MRI of the chest to:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the chest area with uncommon symptoms.
- Evaluate the structure and function of the heart and lungs.
- Assess abnormal masses, including cancer of the lungs or other tissues.
- Detect blocked blood vessels and assess blood flow to the heart.
- Diagnose disorders of the chest bones.
- Evaluate the damage to the lungs, especially in smokers.
- Detect heart problems such as inflammation of the thin sac (pericardium) that surrounds the heart.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Lungs/Chest CTA to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the lungs. Your doctor may also recommend a CBC w/ diff test to measure changes in your blood cell levels and evaluate your overall health. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is Chest MRI Performed?
- Before starting the MRI of the chest, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie still on the MRI scanner table, which will move slowly through a doughnut-shaped MRI machine.
- Once you are inside the MRI machine, multiple images of your chest area will be taken that will be displayed on a monitor.
- During the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds at certain points. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case your doctor has asked you to take a chest MRI with contrast, then contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly after an initial series of scans. Additional images will be taken following the injection.
How Long Does a Chest MRI Take?
An MRI of the chest is usually completed between 30 to 60 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Chest MRI?
No. An MRI is a painless imaging test that doesn’t use radiation.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Chest MRI?
- People who have implants such as a cardiac pacemaker, coronary stent, orthopedic rods, and plates, which contain metal, may face certain risks. The magnets used in an MRI can make implanted pins or screws move in the body or cause problems with pacemakers.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in an MRI.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the chest MRI is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Chest MRI?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.