State-of-the-art technology uses MRI to diagnose patients with heart failure in record time

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have developed cutting-edge technology to diagnose patients with heart failure in record time.

State-of-the-art technology uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create detailed 4D flow images of the heart.

But unlike a standard MRI scan, which can take 20 minutes or more, the new 4D heart MRI scan takes just eight minutes.

The results provide an accurate image of the heart valves and blood flow inside the heart, helping doctors determine the best course of treatment for patients.

Cardiology patients at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) were the first to test the new technology. And the team hopes their work could revolutionize the speed at which heart failure is diagnosed, benefiting hospitals and patients around the world.

Heart failure is a dreaded condition that arises due to increased pressure within the heart. The best way to diagnose heart failure is through invasive evaluation, which is not preferred because it carries risks.

An ultrasound scan of the heart called echocardiography is routinely performed to measure the peak velocity of blood flow through the heart’s mitral valve. However, this method can be unreliable.

We are researching one of the most cutting-edge methods of flow assessment inside the heart called 4D Flow MRI.

In 4D flow MRI, we can see the flow over time in three directions – the fourth dimension.”

Dr Pankaj Garg, Lead Researcher, Norwich Medical School at UEA and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at NNUH

Hosamdin Asadi, a PhD student from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, also said: ,This new technology is revolutionizing how patients with heart disease are diagnosed. However, it takes up to 20 minutes to perform a 4D flow MRI and we know that patients do not like long MRI scans.

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“Therefore, we collaborated with General Electrics Healthcare to investigate the reliability of a new technology that uses super-fast methods to scan flow in the heart, called CAT-ARC.

“We found that this cuts the scanning time in half – and takes about eight minutes.

“We have also shown how this non-invasive imaging technique can accurately and accurately measure the peak velocity of blood flow in the heart.”

The team tested the new technology with 50 patients at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Sheffield.

Evaluation of patients with suspected heart failure using the new CAT-ARC 4D Heart Flow MRI.

Dr Garg said: “This technology is revolutionizing how we assess heart disease and our research paves the way for super-fast 4D flow MRI scans by halving scan times.

“This will benefit hospitals and patients around the world,” he said.

Prof Erica Denton, medical director of NNUH, said: “NNUH is proud to participate in unprecedented research that has the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with heart disease.”

The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust. It was led by researchers from UEA in collaboration with NNUH, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Dundee, GE Healthcare (Germany), Pie Medical Imaging (Netherlands), and the National Heart Center and Duke. NUS Medical School (both Singapore).

The ‘CAT-ARC Accelerated 4D Flow CMR: Clinical Validation for Transvalvular Flow and Peak Velocity Assessment’ is published in the journal. European Radiology Experimental on 22 September.

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