3-D Cardiac MRI Spots Heart Trouble

Technology is improving as researchers get clearer images

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SUNDAY, Nov. 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A technology called whole-heart MRI shows promise as a noninvasive method of detecting major blockages in coronary arteries, Japanese researchers report.

Whole-heart MRI provides 3-D images of the heart and its blood vessels. It may offer an alterative to invasive procedures (such as injecting dyes) or those that use radiation to see inside the heart, experts say.

However, it is still often difficult to get clear images of the heart using MRI. The constant beating of the heart, combined with a patient's breathing, can cause blurred images that are unusable.

Typically, whole-heart MRI images are collected during the brief moment that the heart rests between beats (diastole). In this study, the researchers tested whether better images could be collected when the heart was actively contracting to pump blood (systole).

The study of 113 patients was conducted by a team from Mie University Hospital and Matsusaka Central Hospital in Japan.

They found that in 48 of the patients, especially those with faster heart rates, the best time to collect whole-heart MRI images was during the systole period.

The researchers concluded that the optimal moment for collecting whole-heart MRI images can vary among patients, however.

The study is in the Nov. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

More information

The American College of Radiology/Radiological Society of North America has more about cardiac MRI.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, Nov. 13, 2006

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