About

The Cardiovascular Center offers world-class imaging services, while state of the art technology, collaborative research, and education programs allow us to provide the best in patient care. The university is the only medical center in the region that integrates the most advanced MRI imaging in treating heart disease. This allows our physicians to take a closer look at the heart and vessels with little risk to the patient. Our advanced technology provides a better assessment of the complex abnormalities of the heart, giving a more in-depth diagnosis and treatment for each of our patients.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

MRI is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

How does an MRI scan work?

The MRI machine is a large, cylindrical (tube-shaped) machine that creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. The magnetic field, along with a radiofrequency, alters the hydrogen atoms' natural alignment in the body. Computers are then used to form two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images of a body structure or organ based on the activity of the hydrogen atoms. Cross-sectional views can be obtained to reveal further details. MRI does not use radiation, as do x-rays or computed tomography (CT scans).

A magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from a scanner. The radio waves knock the nuclei of the atoms in your body out of their normal position. As the nuclei realign back into proper position, they send out radio signals. These signals are received by a computer that analyzes and converts them into an image of the part of the body being examined. This image appears on a viewing monitor. Some MRI machines look like narrow tunnels, while others are more open.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used instead of computed tomography (CT) in situations where organs or soft tissue are being studied, because bones do not obscure the images of organs and soft tissues, as they do in CT.

Because radiation is not used, there is no risk of exposure to radiation during an MRI procedure.

Due to the use of the strong magnet, MRI cannot be performed on patients with implanted pacemakers, intracranial aneurysm clips, cochlear implants, certain prosthetic devices, implanted drug infusion pumps, neurostimulators, bone-growth stimulators, certain intrauterine contraceptive devices, or any other type of iron-based metal implants. MRI is also contraindicated in the presence of internal metallic objects such as bullets or shrapnel, as well as surgical clips, pins, plates, screws, metal sutures, or wire mesh. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and potentially could heat up during an MRI, but this is a rare occurrence.

Newer uses and indications for MRI have contributed to the development of additional magnetic resonance technology. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a procedure used to evaluate blood flow through arteries in a noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) manner. MRA can also be used to detect aneurysms within the brain and vascular malformations (abnormalities of blood vessels within the brain, spinal cord, or other parts of the body).

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is another noninvasive procedure used to assess chemical abnormalities in body tissues such as the brain. MRS may be used to assess disorders such as HIV infection of the brain, stroke, head injury, coma, Alzheimer's disease, tumors, and multiple sclerosis.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (fMRI) is used to determine the specific location of the brain where a certain function, such as speech or memory, occurs. The general areas of the brain in which such functions occur are known, but the exact location may vary from person to person. During functional resonance imaging of the brain, you will be asked to perform a specific task, such as recite the Pledge of Allegiance, while the scan is being done. By pinpointing the exact location of the functional center in the brain, physicians can plan surgery or other treatments for a particular disorder of the brain.

How is an MRI performed?

An MRI may be performed on an outpatient basis, or as part of inpatient care. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, an MRI procedure follows this process:

  1. Because of the strong magnetic field, the patient must remove all jewelry and metal objects such as hairpins or barrettes, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dental pieces.

  2. If a contrast medication and/or sedative are to be given by an intravenous line (IV), an IV line will be started in the hand or arm. If the contrast is to be taken by mouth, the patient will be given the contrast to swallow.

  3. The patient will lie on a table that slides into a tunnel in the scanner.

  4. The MRI staff will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, the patient will be in constant sight of the staff through live video feed. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the staff to communicate with and hear the patient. The patient will have a call bell so that he/she can let the staff know if he/she has any problems during the procedure.

  5. During the scanning process, a clicking noise will sound as the magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from the scanner. The patient may be given headphones to wear to help block out the noises from the MRI scanner and hear any messages or instructions from the technologist.

  6. It is important that the patient remain very still during the examination.

  7. At intervals, the patient may be instructed to hold his/her breath, or to not breathe, for a few seconds, depending on the body part being examined. The patient will then be told when he/she can breathe. The patient should not have to hold his/her breath for longer than a few seconds, so this should not be uncomfortable.

  8. The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.

Cardiologists

Feras M. Bader, M.D.

Feras Bader, MD, MS, FACC is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 1992 he received a full scholarship and began his undergraduate and medical training at the University of Jordan School of Medicine in Amman, Jordan; which he completed in 1998. He went... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-5122
University Hospital (801) 585-3693

Nathaniel M. Birgenheier, M.D.

Dr. Birgenheier is an anesthesiologist who focuses on cardiac anesthesia and the use of echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) both in the operating room and in the outpatient setting. He is a board-certified anesthesiologist qualified to provide anesthesia for all types of surgery and procedures who has adv... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Amber D. Bledsoe, M.D.

Dr. Bledsoe is an Anesthesiologist at the University of Utah, specializing in perioperative echocardiography. She is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the National Board of Echocardiography, both in Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography and Adult Echocardiography. She has a p... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Bruce E. Bray, M.D.

Dr. Bray is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah. Dr. Bray studied Biology at Loma Linda University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He subsequently obtained a medical degree from Loma Linda University. Dr. Bray completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Kettering Medical Center, and comple... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Medical Informatics

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (775) 289-3612

Jennifer A. DeCou, M.D.

Dr. DeCou has a special interest in patients with cardiac disease and a special expertise in echocardiography. She is a level 3 trained echocardiographer. In addition, she specializes in the preop evaluations of patients for surgery.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Edward Michael Gilbert, M.D.

Edward Michael Gilbert, MD is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Gilbert received his medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He completed his training in Internal Medicine and in Critical Care at Wayne State University. He completed his Cardiovascular Di... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

Billings Clinic (800) 332-7156
Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (208) 367-4278
University Hospital (801) 585-5122
University Hospital (801) 585-3693
Veterans Administration Medical Center (801) 584-1235

Leif Jensen, M.D., M.P.H.

Leif Jensen, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. Originally from Minnesota, he completed his medical degree at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, followed by a surgical internship at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. He completed residency training in Ra... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Thoracic Imaging, X-Ray

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Lillian L. Khor, M.Sc., M.B.B.Ch.

Lillian Khor received a foreign medical degree, M.B.BCh., BAO degree (equivalent to M.D.) from the National University of Ireland in 1997. She concluded her foreign medical training with an internal medicine residency and moved here in 2000, and repeated her internal medicine Internship and Residency at the Univ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Christopher J. McGann, M.D.

Christopher J. McGann, M.D., has appointments in both the Cardiology Division and Radiology Department at the University of Utah, where he has been a faculty member since 2002. He currently serves as the Section Chief of General Cardiology and the Director of Cardiovascular Imaging. He received his medical degre... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Shaji C. Menon, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Shaji Menon, MD is a Pediatric Cardiologist at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children´s Medical Center.

Dr. Menon sees children and adolescents with all forms of congenital heart disease. D... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Fetal Echocardiography, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Imaging

Locations:

PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-5400
Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Kimberly M. Molina, M.D.

Kimberly Molina, MD is a member of the division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Molina is a general cardiologist who sees children with all forms of heart disease, and specializes in seeing patients with heart failure and cardiomyop... Read More

Specialties:

Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Pediatric Cardiology

Locations:

Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Jack H. Morshedzadeh, M.D.

Jack Morshedzadeh. M.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as the Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Medicine Unit and Cardiac Critical Care Unit. He is also the Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program. He... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990
University Hospital (801) 587-0555

David H. Odell, M.D.

Dr. Odell has clinical responsibilities at hospitals within the University of Utah system and also the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. His clinical duties include membership on the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia teams at the University and the VA. This includes providing anesthesia for all typ... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Jeffrey D. Olpin, M.D.

Jeffrey Dee Olpin, MD, is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He is a member of the Abdominal Imaging faculty with an emphasis on gastrointestinal, genitourinary and cardiac imaging. His specific interests include prostate imaging and MR imaging of the gastrointesti... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Theophilus Owan, M.D.

Dr. Owan is appointed to faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. His primary clinical affiliation is with general cardiology and secondarily with interventional cardiology. Dr Owan’s General Cardiology activities involve outpatient, and inpatient services including diagnostic ech... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hypertension, Interventional Cardiology

Locations:

San Juan Clinic (435) 587-5054
South Jordan Health Center (801) 585-7676
University Hospital (801) 585-2341

Peter C. Pelegrin, M.D.

Dr. Pelegrin has a special interest in cardiac anesthesia, and special expertise in echocardiography. He is a level 3 trained echocardiographer.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Maryam Rezvani, M.D.

Dr. Rezvani is a board certified radiologist by the American Board of Radiology. She is fellowship trained in Body Imaging and Cardiac Imaging.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Breast Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Mammography, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Akram Shaaban, M.B.B.Ch.

Dr. Shaaban is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology. He completed his residency training at the University of Utah. He is fellowship trained in Body Imaging. He is board certified by the American Board of Radiology.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Daniel N. Sommers, M.D.

Daniel Sommers, MD, practices Body Imaging and Cardiothoracic Imaging. Current areas of research and study include Cardiac imaging and post procedural radiographic findings related to cardiac interventions and procedures.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Thoracic Imaging, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Daniel P. Vezina, M.D., M.Sc., FRCPC

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology (Clinical track)
Associate Professor of internal Medicine, Division of cardiology (Adjunct)
Director of the VA SLC Echocardiography Laboratory... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7715

Jerry D. Walker, M.D.

Jerry D. Walker, M.D., has appointments in both Division of Cardiology and the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He has been on faculty since 2010 and oversees the University Redwood Cardiology Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah and has developed the University Cardiology Practice... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine

Locations:

Huntsman Cancer Hospital
Cardiovascular Clinic (307) 362-3711
Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990

Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D.

Kevin Whitehead, MD is an Associate Professor of Cardiology at the University of Utah, and also has privileges at Primary Children's Medical Center. He cares for adults with congenital heart disease, heart disease in pregnancy, and other patients with cardiac complications of genetic diseases (such as muscular ... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 213-2033
University Hospital (801) 587-0555
University Hospital (801) 581-8188

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as Director of the Cardiovascular Center, Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory, and Director of Cardiology Clinical services. He has been on faculty at the U... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Clinical Trials

  • Regadenoson in stress MRI
    Keywords: stress MRI, coronary artery disease, adenosine, regedenoson
    Status: Enrolling by invitation
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • NEAT HFpEF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, Preserved Ejection Fraction, HFpEF, Nitrates, Activity Tolerance
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • RESTAGE - HF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, LVAD, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Heart Recovery
    Status: Not yet recruiting