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

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 advanced training in providing care for ... 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 Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology 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... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Bruce E. Bray, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

Dr. Bray is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine (Cardiovascular) and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Bray obtained a bachelor of science degree in biology and a medical degree from Loma Linda University. He completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Wright State University / Kettering Medical Center... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Medical Informatics

Locations:

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

Anna B. Catino, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

Dr. Anna Catino, M.D. has an appointment in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah School College of Medicine. She has been on faculty at the University of Utah since 2015 and serves as a clinical instructor and the Associate Program Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program. Dr. Cat... Read More

Specialties:

Cardio-Oncology, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology

Locations:

Redstone Health Center (801) 585-7676
University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Daniel A. Cox, D.O.

Dr. Dan Cox is a pediatric and adult congenital cardiologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating people with congenital heart problems at all ages. He received his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University and medical degree from the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed a combined pediatric and... Read More

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 Preoperative evaluations of patients for surgery.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital
Anesthesiology
(801) 581-6393

Edward Michael Gilbert, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

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 Disease training at the University of U... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Mechanical Support, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

Billings Clinic (800) 332-7156
Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (208) 367-4278
University Hospital
Heart Failure Clinic
(801) 587-2199
University Hospital
Heart Transplant Clinic
(801) 585-3693
Veterans Administration Medical Center (801) 584-1235

Arvind Hoskoppal, M.D.

Dr. Hoskoppal received his medical degree from Bangalore University and completed a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency from Creighton University. He then completed a fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by an advanced fellowship in Adult Congenital Heart Disease at the Mayo Cli... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Echocardiography, Marfan Syndrome and other Aortic Disorders, Pediatric Cardiology, Pregnancy and Heart Disease

Locations:

Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599

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 Radiology at the University of Kansas M... 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.B.B.Ch., M.Sc.

Patient Rating:

4.6

4.6 out of 5

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 University of Utah from 2000-2003. She co... Read More

Specialties:

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

Locations:

University Hospital
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 585-7676

William A. Kutchera, M.D., FACC, M.S.

William A. Kutchera, M.D. FACC is a Cardiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He is Board-Certified in Cardiovascular Diseases and Adult Comprehensive Echocardiography.  He serves as the Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at University Hospital, is an Attending Physician on the inpatient Cardi... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology

Locations:

Basin Clinic (801) 585-7676
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (801) 585-7676
University Hospital
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (801) 585-7676

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. Dr Menon has an adjunct appointment in Department of Radiology. His areas of especial interest and expertise are: 1) Cardiac imaging; ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Fetal Echocardiography, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Imaging

Locations:

PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-5400
Primary Children's Hospital
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 cardiomyopathy, as well as those individuals wh... Read More

Specialties:

Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Pediatric Cardiology

Locations:

Primary Children's Hospital
Pediatric Cardiology
(801) 662-5400

Jack H. Morshedzadeh, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

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 has been on faculty at the Universit... Read More

Cory M.L. Nitzel, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

Cory Nitzel M.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He has been on faculty at the University of Utah since 2013. Dr. Nitzel graduated from Idaho State University with a BS in Microbiology in 2002. He received his medical degree from the University of Washington ... Read More

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 types of cardiac and thoracic cases. In... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital
Anesthesiology
(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 gastrointestinal tract. Dr Olpin received a Bache... Read More

Theophilus Owan, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Dr. Owan is appointed to faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. His primary clinical affiliation is with interventional cardiology. His Intervetional Cardiology services involve diagnostic cardiac procedures, percutaneous coronary intervention and structural heart disease interventional procedures including repai... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Hypertension, Interventional Cardiology

Locations:

Basin Clinic (801) 585-7676
Farmington Health Center (801) 585-7676
San Juan Clinic
San Juan Clinic
(801) 585-7676
University Hospital
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 585-7676

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

Joyce D. Schroeder, M.D.

Joyce Schroeder MD, associate professor, is the section chief of Thoracic Imaging at the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the University of Utah and co-director of Cardiovascular Imaging. Dr. Schroeder has research interests in quantitative imaging of lung disease and cardiovascular disease with a focus on imaging as a collaborative ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Radiology, Thoracic Imaging

Locations:

University Hospital
Radiology
(801) 581-8699

Akram Shaaban, M.B.B.Ch.

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

Rashmee U. Shah, M.D.

Rashmee U. Shah, MD MS has an appointment in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She has been on faculty at the University of Utah since 2014. Dr. Shah received her medical degree at the Tufts University School of Medicine, where she graduated with honors. She completed Inte... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Computed Tomography - CT, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Joseph E. Tonna, M.D.

Dr. Joseph Tonna, MD, FAAEM, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery (Emergency Medicine) at the University of Utah and is the Associate Director of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Services at the University. He works as an Attending Physician in the Surgical and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Units and in the Emergency Department. His cli... Read More

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
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 581-7715

Jerry D. Walker, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

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 at Memorial Hospital at Sweetwater C... Read More

Specialties:

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

Locations:

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County
Cardiovascular Clinic
(307) 362-3711
Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990

Omar Wever-Pinzon, M.D.

Dr. Wever-Pinzon is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah. He received his medical degree from the University of Panama. Dr. Wever-Pinzon completed his Internal Medicine Residency, followed by a fellowship in Advanced Cardiac Imaging at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center-University Hospital of Columbia University College of... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiac Mechanical Support, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Nuclear Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 587-2199
Veterans Administration Medical Center (801) 584-1235

Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Kevin Whitehead, MD is an Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Utah, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Primary Children's Medical Center. He also is an Attending Physician at the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is co-director of the Utah Adult Congenital Heart Disease cent... Read More

Specialties:

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

Locations:

Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (208) 367-2121
University Hospital
Cardiovascular Center
(801) 585-7676
University Hospital
HHT Center
(801) 581-8188
University Hospital
Utah Adult Congential Heart Clinic
(801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (775) 289-3612

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

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

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 University of Utah since 2006. Dr. W... Read More

Clinical Trials

  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • PARAGON
    Keywords: Heart Failure, HFpEF, Structural Heart Disease
    Status: Recruiting
  • Regadenoson in stress MRI
    Keywords: stress MRI, coronary artery disease, adenosine, regedenoson
    Status: Enrolling by invitation
  • The role of iron in atrial fibrillation
    Keywords: iron, atrial fibrillation
    Status: Recruiting
  • LVAD and Stem Cells
    Keywords: Heart Failure, LVAD, Stem Cells, Bridge to Transplant, Destination Therapy, Myocardial Recovery
    Status: Recruiting
  • RESTAGE - HF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, LVAD, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Heart Recovery
    Status: Active, not recruiting