A computed tomography (CT) scan is a scan that uses x-rays to take detailed cross-sectional images of the body, including the arteries and beating heart. A contrast dye is injected into a vein. As this dye moves through the heart and blood vessels, the CT scan will take detailed pictures. These pictures can then be used to create a 3-D reconstruction of the heart and major blood vessels. Your doctor can use these images to identify problems with the heart or blood vessels and develop a treatment plan if necessary.
cMRI (cardiac MRI) is a scan that provides pictures of the heart and blood vessels inside the body using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. Unlike a CT scan, it does not use x-ray radiation. The MRI generates images of the heart and blood vessels, which can help your doctor assess the heart’s structure and function. In addition to providing information on anatomy, cardiac MRI can also provide information on how blood flows through the heart and vessels, how well the heart valves are functioning, how well the heart muscle is being supplied with blood, and if scars have formed within the heart muscle. Some kinds of stress testing can be performed with a cMRI as well. A cMRI scan takes longer to perform than a cardiac CT scan.