Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The Leeds Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (CMR) service is based at the Yorkshire Heart Centre, at Leeds General Infirmary. The Unit was founded in 1999 with the installation of a British Heart Foundation funded MRI scanner. Since then, the facility has expanded to include three state-of-the-art MRI scanners in a Clinical Imaging Centre (Clarendon Wing) and an Advanced Imaging Centre (Gilbert Scott Building).
We are a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals and we scan and report approximately 2500 scans every year on patients with a wide range of heart diseases. We receive referrals from several secondary care hospitals in West, North and South Yorkshire and work closely with clinicians in Leeds and across the region.
We are also a very active research department. You can find out more here:
What is a Cardiac MRI?
A cardiac MRI scan is a detailed scan of the heart using a technology called magnetic resonance imaging. The scan is very safe and has the benefit that it involves no radiation. It cannot be undertaken in people with some types of metallic implant or pacemaker devices.
Before your MRI
If you are having a scan, we will write to you with an appointment and any instructions for the day of the scan (e.g. sometimes the scan gives us better information if you avoid caffeine beforehand). You can otherwise eat and drink normally, and there are no driving restrictions.
You may be in the department for around two hours, including the scan itself. The scanner can feel a little close to your face and chest, but most people tolerate this very well and we will do our best to make it easier.
It would be very helpful if you could let us know in advance if you have any metallic devices, implants or any metal in your eye(s). Our contact details are below.
On the day of your MRI
A radiographer or assistant will take you through a safety questionnaire to ensure it is safe to go ahead and that any detachable metal is stored securely in a locker before we take you to the scanning room. For most scans, we need to give you a contrast dye which gives us clearer pictures of the heart. For some scans we also need to give you a medication that simulates the effects of exercise on the heart for a short time. For these we will insert a cannula into a vein in your arm. The radiographer will check your height and weight so the measurements of your heart are corrected for your body size.
Once you are in the scanner room, we will place some soft stickers on your chest to measure your heart rate and rhythm and set you up for the scan. The machine can be noisy, so you will be given ear defenders and a buzzer and we can set up a radio station of your choice to distract you from the noise. You can see the scanner in the photo below; we will leave the room during the scan but can speak to you and hear you from the control room at all times.
Most heart scans require some breath-holding, so we will ask you when to breathe in, breathe out and hold, and when to breathe freely. Typically, a breath-hold lasts 5-10 seconds. Most cardiac MRI scans take between 30-60 minutes to complete and we will communicate with you throughout.
Once the scan is complete and the radiographer and/or doctor are happy with the images of your heart, you will be free to pick up your belongings and go. Our doctors will then report the scan and pass the report to the consultant who has requested the scan (usually your cardiologist).
Meet the Team
We have a team of nine consultants as well as visiting physicians from other centres in Yorkshire, with a variety of specialist academic and clinical interests.
Professor Sven Plein
Professor John Greenwood
Dr Ananth Kidambi
Dr Erica Dall’Armellina
Dr Eylem Levelt
Dr Anshu Sengupta
Dr Peter Swoboda
Congenital / Paediatric Cardiology
Dr Helen Michael
Dr Vitor Ramos
Clinical and Research Fellows
We run a busy and active clinical MRI service and a prolific research department, supported by the British Heart Foundation, Heart Research UK, Diabetes UK and other funders. Much of the research and clinical work in the department is carried out by Fellows from clinical cardiology and physics backgrounds. Our Fellows are experienced in heart disease and highly trained, and are usually senior trainee doctors, preparing for Consultant roles.
What we do
Our MRI scanners are situated in the British Heart Foundation-funded Cardiac MRI department at the Clarendon Wing, Leeds General Infirmary and in the Advanced Imaging Centre in the Gilbert Scott Building of Leeds General Infirmary. We support a busy NHS cardiology service, as well as providing MRI scans for specialists looking after other diseases that can affect the heart, such as haematologists, respiratory physicians and rheumatologists.
We routinely scan patients with a variety of heart related illnesses, including:
- Ischaemic heart disease – searching for evidence of severe blockages in the blood supply to the heart, which can cause chest discomfort and other symptoms.
- Heart failure – problems with the thickness, size or pumping ability of the heart muscle, which can lead to breathlessness, fluid retention or electrical disturbances.
- Narrowing or leaking of the heart valves.
- Structural disease of the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- Inherited cardiovascular conditions – genetic conditions affecting the heart muscle, electrical conducting system or the aorta.
- Congenital heart disease – differences in the way the various chambers of the heart are connected and work together.
- Diseases of the pericardium (the fluid-filled sac surrounding the heart) and myocardium (the muscle layer of the heart).
- Cardiac masses and tumours, which range from blood clots, benign irregularities and more serious diseases such as cancer.
Each cardiac MRI scan is focussed on the condition that the specialist has requested.
This section is predominantly aimed towards medical professionals.
Most referrals are made directly from cardiologists or other consultants to our service. If you are requesting a cardiac MRI scan, please download and complete the request form (accessible from NHS networks) and provide as much information as possible to help us provide a good report.
In particular, it is essential that all the safety tick-box questions are completed accurately and, if you would like us to give contrast, that the patient’s renal function has been checked and included. Cardiac MRI is suitable for most medical devices. If you are uncertain about the safety of a particular device, our radiographers and medical physicists can help. Please contact bookings for further information.
One of our doctors will then protocol the scan and/or contact you with any queries before inviting the patient. If you would like an inpatient study, please ring us on the contact numbers below.
How to contact us
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 0113 243 2799
Cardiac MRI Bookings 0113 392 5061