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Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is the branch of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) whose acquisition methods are adapted to surmount the particular challenges caused by motion of the heart and blood in vivo. Magnetic resonance imaging is supremely flexible; it can produce images showing the spatial distribution of diverse tissue characteristics, for example, proton density, T(1), T(2), T(2)(⁎), fat concentration, flow rate, and diffusion parameters. The image contrast may usefully be modified by intravenous infusion of contrast agents. Magnetic resonance imaging permits 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional acquisitions with arbitrary slice orientation. Unfortunately, MRI's flexibility is matched by a remarkable complexity not only in its fundamental principles but also in the optimization of applications in the clinic. This article attempts to demystify the basic principles of CMR and provides a primer on the terminology used in CMR. Complete confidence in the principles of CMR is not essential to use the technology. Nevertheless, knowledge of the principal terminology of MRI is a valuable first step when seeking to understand and apply modern methods in a clinical or research setting. Thus, the article closes with a glossary of terminology and references to high-quality educational resources.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Cardiovasc Dis

Publication Date





181 - 190


Contrast Media, Heart Diseases, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Severity of Illness Index, Terminology as Topic