WASHINGTON, D.C.Technically advanced molecular imaging provides a 3-D way to significantly improve the diagnosis of heart disease, according to researchers at the 54th Annual Meeting of SNM, the world's largest molecular imaging and nuclear medicine society.
"The exciting results of our study show that physicians can use our technologically advanced fusion of anatomic and physiological three-dimensional color displays to significantly improve the accuracy of diagnosing heart disease," said Cesar A. Santana, assistant professor of radiology at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga. "In addition, these computer fusion and rendering techniques could be used in the future with molecular imaging agents to detect and guide the treatment associated with coronary artery disease," he added.
"Using innovative new computer techniques, we took images of the coronary arteries from one studycalled a computed tomography (CT) angiographyand superimposed them on top of images of heart muscle," he noted. "The heart muscle was color coded to the blood flow brought in by the coronaries into the muscle. That blood flow information was obtained from a nuclear imaging scan," he further explained.
Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease, occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed, explained Santana. The arteries harden and narrow due to buildup of a material called plaque on their inner walls. As the plaque increases in size, the insides of the coronary arteries get narrower and less blood can flow through them. Over time, blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced, and, because blood carries much-needed oxygen, the heart muscle is not able to receive the amount of oxygen it needs. About 7 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease, and nearly 500,000 will die from it annually.