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Researchers Develop 4-D Cardiac Image Capability

March 10, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging
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Utilizing an MRI scanner and software designed for the automotive and aircraft industries, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health have developed technology that captures 4-D  images of the entire chest, with blood flow velocity represented in color coded filaments.

The procedure has the added advantage of producing results in 10 minutes—or nine times faster than current methods—does not require that a patient hold his breath, is not limited by a patient’s size, is non-invasive and does not necessitate a contrast agent or general anesthesia.

Radiologist Chris Francois, and medical physicist Oliver Wieben have been studying the technology since 2007 and narrowed the project to cardiac imaging in 2009. Charles Mistretta, of the University’s department of medical physics, began the initial work in 2002.

Known as PC VIPR (Phase Contrast Vastly undersampled Isotropic Projection Reconstruction), the technique produces images in each of the spatial directions and in the fourth dimension of time. It tracks the velocity of blood flow and reveals it on the screen as blue in relaxed hearts, green during contraction and yellow or red in heart patients. The scans clearly show flow direction, deviations and obstructions.

“In designing this, we threw out all the old rules of radiology and came up with a new way to acquire data that allows us to do the imaging much faster while still getting excellent quality. We’re also developing new ways to display the complex flow data on a 2-D monitor,” Wieben said, as quoted in a PhysOrg.com article.

Wieben and Francois have tested their procedure on hundreds of patients and volunteers, thus far, and plan to conduct larger studies. They hope that their PC VIPR will be available in hospitals in three or four years. Beyond that, they foresee the system’s future capability of analyzing blood vessel walls and precluding aneurysms.

Source: University of Wisconsin, The Badger Herald

Related seminar: Thoracic Imaging

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