Radio daignosis

The researches find that the the first to show that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI);  use to measure how the heart uses oxygen for both healthy patients and those with heart disease. Therefore Reduced blood flow to the heart muscle is the leading cause of death in the Western world. Currently; the diagnostic tests available to measure blood flow to the heart require injection of radioactive chemicals or contrast agents that change the MRI signal and detect the presence of disease.

Injection of radioactive chemicals

There are small but finite associated risks and it is not recommend for a variety of patients including those with poor kidney function. More than 500,000 tests are performed each year in Canada. Because “This new method, cardiac functional MRI (cfMRI); does not require needles or chemicals being injected into the body;” says Dr. Frank Prato, Lawson Assistant Director for Imaging. “It eliminates the existing risks and can be use on all patients.”

The team included researchers from Lawson; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of California; King’s College in the United Kingdom; therefore University Health Network and the University of Toronto; Siemens Healthineers; and, University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. Therefore “Our discovery shows that we can use MRI to study heart muscle activity;” explains Dr. Prato. “They are been successful in using a pre-clinical model and now we are preparing to show this can be used to accurately detect heart disease in patients.

Pre-clinical model

Repeat exposure to carbon dioxide is use to test how well the heart’s blood vessels are working to deliver oxygen to the muscle. A breathing machine changes the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. Because This change should result in a change in blood flow to the heart; but does not happen when disease is present. The cfMRI method reliably detects whether these changes are present.

Other researchers have explored oxygenation-sensitive MRI but initial results contained a high level of ‘noise’ with blurry images. Project leader and partner Dr. Rohan Dharmakumar, Associate Director of the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; believed that the noise was actually variation in the heart’s processing of oxygen.

The Biomedical Imaging

He engineered a way to average this variation and through testing at Lawson the team discover that the noise is actually a new way to study how the heart works. “Using MRI will not only be safer than present methods, but also provide more detailed information and much earlier on in the disease process,” adds Dr. Prato. Following initial testing through clinical trials, he sees this being use with patients clinically within a few years.