Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are the first in the world to report the successful use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose significant blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart. This is the first "non-invasive" test to visualize blockages and determine if they require treatment.
MRI is just as accurate at diagnosing blocked arteries as heart catheterization, the current standard test, reported researchers from the Medical Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in this week's issue of Circulation, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association.
"MRI allows us not only to locate a blockage, but to determine whether it limits blood flow enough to warrant treatment," said Greg Hundley, M.D., assistant professor of cardiology and radiology, and a member of the research team. "There is no other non-invasive test that can do this. With further development, many patients may benefit from this approach to assessing coronary blockages."
MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves, so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation. Patients spend less than an hour in a scanner and can then go home. Cardiac catheterization, a procedure to thread a small, flexible tube called a catheter through the blood vessels into the heart, requires a six- to eight-hour wait afterwards and can have complications. These include allergic reactions to the dye released into the vessels that enables X-ray equipment to track blood flow, bleeding from the vessel where the catheter is inserted and, in rare cases, a heart attack.
In a study of 30 patients who had both MRI scanning and cardiac
MRI was just as effective as cardiac catheterization at diagnosing significant
blockages in two main arteries supplying the heart (the distal left main and the
left anterior descending). It is important to diagnose blockages in these a
Contact: Karen Richardson, Robert Conn or Jim Steele
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center