Cardiac MRI scan

Our cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) team is dedicated to imaging the heart. You can expect your examination to take between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on how complex your scan is.

After your scan is over, a specialist will analyse your results and prepare a report, which is forwarded to the doctor who requested your test.

You will often need an injection into a vein in your arm, and some of the scans need preparation for a day or two. If preparation is needed, the details will be included with your appointment letter.

Some people may not be able to have certain types of MRI scans.

Please contact us if:

  • you have a pacemaker, defibrillator or any other device implanted in your chest
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you have had surgery or a procedure on your brain or spine
  • you have had an accident with metal piercing into your eye (even if it was a long time ago).

Having your scan


MRI uses a very powerful magnet to take pictures. It is a popular diagnostic tool because it does not use x-rays.

The strong magnetic field does mean, however, that we need to be very careful to remove metal objects before we go into the scan room.

Inside the scanner

You will need to lie very still during your scan, because movement causes the pictures to be blurred. You’ll also need to hold your breath for most of the pictures. 

Your chest will be in the centre of the scanner, so your legs will stick out of one end and your head will be at the other. We will talk to you through the headphones asking you to hold your breath and you will have a buzzer to hold in case you need to speak to us.

We can see you from the control area and via a camera. A flexible plate called a coil will be on top of your chest - it’s like an aerial for the scanner.


It’s difficult for younger children to stay still and to control their breathing correctly, so they might need a general anaesthetic.

Finding us

We are based at Southampton General Hospital, on E level, North Wing.

  • If you come in the main entrance to the hospital, walk past the shops and turn left. Continue walking until you come to the lifts and stairs, and go up to E level. The entrance to North Wing is behind a large pillar, and cardiac MRI scanner is signposted.
  • Alternatively, as you approach the front entrance of the hospital, left left and walk round the outside towards the emergency department. Before you reach the emergency department, you will arrive at the North Wing entrance. Come in to the hospital here, and take the lift or stairs to E level - you will come out opposite the cardiac MRI reception.

Contact us

You can call us on 023 8120 4833.