DALLAS, June 22 -- A simple 30-minute test may soon be a safer and more convenient way to diagnose coronary heart disease, the cause of heart attacks, than the widely used invasive technique of X-ray angiography, researchers report today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Called three-dimensional (3-D) coronary magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), the test uses powerful magnets to provide images of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels of the heart. Unlike conventional coronary angiography, the test does not require injection of a dye or exposure to X-ray. Thus, it causes considerably less discomfort and risk for the patient and is also less costly.
During conventional coronary angiography, an X-ray examination of the blood vessels is performed to look for blockages that obstruct blood flow to the heart, thereby triggering a heart attack. During conventional angiography, patients must lie still while a small tube is placed inside the blood vessels to deliver the dye. After X-rays are taken of the blood vessels, the patient often remains in the hospital for a recovery period of four to six hours.
The procedure creates a risk of infection and bleeding, and in a small fraction of cases, heart attack and stroke, says Warren J. Manning, M.D., co-director of the Cardiac MRA Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and senior author of the study.
"We have multiple methods to try to determine if our patients have coronary heart disease," says Manning. "However, we have no methods to image the coronary arteries themselves that do not require injecting a dye into a blood vessel."
Manning and his research colleagues used a sophisticated MRA approach to enhance the MRA image quality and spatial resolution to provide detailed images of the blood vessels.
With the new MRA technique, two sets of images are acquired: one for the blood
vessels on the left side of the heart and one for the right side,
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association