3-D magnetic resonance imaging safer way to diagnose heart disease

with each set of images taking 10 to 15 minutes. Patients simply need to lie still and breathe normally.

"So, in essence, in about a half an hour, you're done. It is likely that the technique will become the standard approach at many cardiac MRA centers because of its ease of use and high quality," says Manning, associate professor of medicine and radiology at Harvard Medical School.

A 20- to 30-minute 3-D MRA imaging session is also less than one-quarter of the cost of an X-ray angiogram, Manning says.

Individuals who are found to have blockages in their blood vessels can then be treated with angioplasty or surgery. If untreated, the blockages can lead to a heart attack or worsening chest pain.

The team first reported that MRA could be used for coronary artery imaging in 1993, Manning says, but the approach at that time required patients to hold their breath 30 to 40 times for about 16 to 20 seconds each time.

Even though most patients could be trained to do this, the clarity of the images was not sufficient, he says. With the new MRA methods, patients no longer need to hold their breath and image quality is improved.

In the study led by Rene' M. Botnar, Ph.D., clinical scientist at the Cardiac MRA Center of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, eight healthy adults and five patients with confirmed heart disease underwent the new technique.

The team reported that it allows for improved definition of the heart's arteries and MRA compared well with conventional X-ray angiograms.

The team has initiated a study to examine the accuracy of this MRA technique compared to X-ray angiography at eight medical centers around the world, says Manning.

Another advantage of the MRA technique is that it also can be used to evaluate the anatomy, contractility, perfusion and valvular function of the heart, thereby providing a comprehensive, non-invasive, cardiac examination. Co-authors were Matthias Stuber, Ph.D.; Peter G. Danias, M.D.

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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