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'HARP MRI' provides faster, clear heart pictures

System Helps Doctors Learn More from Cardiac Stress Tests

Johns Hopkins University engineers have developed a system that can give doctors--almost immediately--detailed images showing where heart damage has occurred. In the very near future, the inventors say, cardiologists routinely will be able to clearly see the condition of heart muscles while a patient is still inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

Currently, it is too costly and impractical for physicians to use an MRI scanner to examine the heart during a typical cardiac stress test. Even though an MRI, coupled with cutting-edge "tagging" technology, can provide highly detailed heart data, it is rarely used because the pictures take several hours to process and interpret. To eliminate this delay, Johns Hopkins engineers Jerry L. Prince and Nael Osman have developed HARP MRI, a system that allows doctors to see the condition of the heart muscles in minutes, not hours.

The inventors say HARP MRI will give physicians a better tool to determine whether a heart disorder exists. If a problem is found, the images will help doctors decide whether the patient requires surgery or merely changes in diet and exercise. Finally, the HARP MRI system can be used to check the effectiveness of new drugs designed to revive stunned heart muscles. The HARP MRI system is being tested at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and preliminary results are encouraging.

"I think the HARP concept could revolutionize or dramatically change the way we do cardiac stress testing," says cardiologist Joao Lima, who has used the system. "With it, we can receive quantitative results in a matter of minutes," says Lima, an associate professor in The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "It allows us to see the degree and extent of the heart problems. There's noth
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
410-516-7160
Johns Hopkins University
18-Oct-1999


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