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Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Coronavirus: Cadiac MRI service update

This section explains the steps we are taking to ensure the safety of our patients and the staff during coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation period.

We understand that patients may be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) particularly if they, or someone they live with may be vulnerable. Unfortunately, whilst the risks from coronavirus are well publicised, there are also risks to your health from other conditions, like heart disease. These still need to be diagnosed and treated, in some cases as a matter of urgency.

If you have been contacted about having a cardiac MRI scan, a specialist cardiac doctor has thoroughly considered the risk of attending your appointment, against the risk to your health as a result of a delayed diagnosis.

We encourage you to attend your scan and would like to reassure you that we will do all we can to minimise any risk from your attendance. We will only ask you to attend this appointment if you have no symptoms yourself and are not self-isolating because of others living with you.

Ensuring your safety

Arriving at St Thomas' hospital:

  • we are limiting the number of people visiting the hospital so you will be asked to show proof of your appointment when you arrive at the main entrance
  • all staff and visitors entering and leaving the hospital need to sanitise their hands with hand gel provided by the hospital
  • the hospital is following the two-metre social distancing rule and all staff and visitors will be requested to abide by this rule at all times.

Your cardiac MRI appointment:

  • We are currently allowing an additional 30 minutes between patient appointments. This gives us time to thoroughly clean the department and changing areas between patients and ensure that our waiting spaces are not crowded
  • When you arrive at the department you will be met by staff who will be wearing the recommended personal protection equipment (PPE). This consists of gloves, face mask, goggles and an apron
  • Our staff will give you a face mask to wear, if you do not already have this with you

  • There is hand washing facilities as well as hand gel which we advise all visitors to use before and after your appointment.

Travel advice

There has been some relaxation on parking restrictions and congestion charges if you wish to travel by car. Transport for London (TfL) have currently suspended all road user charging schemes. For more and up-to-date information on this, please visit the TFL website. If you have to travel using public transport, you should observe social distancing, and may wish to consider wearing a mask and gloves and carry hand sanitisers.

Relatives and carers

We ask you to bring only one relative or carer with you if absolutely necessary. This is to ensure we limit the number of people visiting the hospital, to help with social distancing, and reduce spread of the virus. Your relative or carer will be asked to wait outside the department to restrict the number of people entering the clinical area.


What is cardiac MRI?

Cardiac MRI scan

Cardiac MRI stands for cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging. It is a diagnostic MRI examination of the heart and the major blood vessels.

King's College London's School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences (School of BMEIS) is responsible for providing a CMR scanning service on behalf of Guy's and St Thomas'.

CMR Scanning helps to:

  • evaluate the anatomy (structure) and function of the heart chambers, valves, major vessels, and surrounding structures such as the pericardium (the fluid filled sac that surrounds the heart)
  • diagnose a variety of cardiovascular (heart and/or blood vessel) disorders such as tumours, infections, and inflammatory conditions
  • detect and evaluate the effects of coronary artery disease such as limited blood flow to the heart muscle and scarring within the heart muscle after a heart attack
  • plan a patient's treatment for cardiovascular disorders
  • monitor a patient's progression over time
  • evaluate the anatomy of the heart and blood vessels in children with congenital (present from birth) heart disease.

Using cardiac MRI, doctors can:

  • examine the size of the heart chambers and the thickness of the heart wall
  • determine the extent of myocardial (heart muscle) damage and effect on pump function caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease
  • detect the build-up of plaque and blockages in blood vessel.
  • assess a patient's recovery following treatment
  • evaluate the heart anatomy, pump function, heart valve function and vascular blood flow both before and after surgical repair of congenital cardiovascular disease in children and adults.

Our facilities and services:

  • three dedicated MRI scanners (one 3T and two 1.5T scanners) able to perform the most up-to-date high quality and high-resolution stress perfusion scans
  • two modern large bore 1.5T scanners, combining the latest digital technology with a more comfortable experience for patient and higher throughput
  • Over 5000 clinical CMR scans performed a year
  • emergency slots for inpatients available five days a week
  • collaboration with research including but not limited to perfusion, 4D flow, atrial fibrillation, cardiac ablation and T1 mapping
  • provide tertiary (specialist) cardiac MRI services for hospitals in the south east and south west of England including Brighton, Maidstone, Lewisham, Dartford, East Surrey, Kingston-upon-Thames and Portsmouth regions.

CMR Scanning: Who's who

  • Head of school of BMEIS: Professor Sebastien Ourselin
  • Head of adult clinical CMR scanning services: Dr Amedeo Chiribiri
  • Director of imaging operations: Dr Sharon Giles
  • Imaging services manager: Mr Ramesh Valapil


We accept referrals from secondary and tertiary cardiac centres.

To make a referral to our cardiac MRI service, complete and download the referral form (Word 17Kb) and send to us by emailing

For referral queries, please call 020 7188 5441.