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Study Boosts MRI For Heart Catheterization

September 18, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging, Pediatric Radiology
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MRI works just fine for guiding heart catheterization procedures, according to a pilot study conducted at the National Institutes of Health.

Said the NIH’s Robert S. Balaban, PhD:

This could be the first chapter of a big story. It provides evidence that clinical heart catheter procedures are possible without using radiation, which could be especially valuable in areas such as pediatrics.

Dr. Balaban is scientific director of the Division of Intramural Research at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). That’s where the pilot study took place. He was quoted in an NIH news release.

An article detailing the study was published online last month in the European Heart Journal.

The researchers performed transfemoral catheterization to examine the right side of the heart three different ways on 16 very brave patients. First they used conventional X-ray guidance. Then they switched to MRI, using a balloon-tipped catheter filled once with air and once with gladolinium contrast agent.

Actually, only 15 of the patients completed all three procedures. The other one required a guide wire for the X-ray procedure, and no wires are available that work with MRI.

Each procedure required about the same amount of time, roughly 20 minutes. With contrast, MRI worked at least as well as X-ray in all steps of the procedure. Performance suffered a little without contrast.

The leader of the study and senior author of the article was Robert J. Lederman, MD, a senior investigator in the NHLBI’s Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch. Dr. Lederman said:

Developing safe and conspicuous catheter devices for MRI is the chief obstacle to overcome before this approach can be widely applied at hospitals. But with improved tools and further improvement of the procedure, real-time MRI catheterization may become a realistic option for many people.

Dr. Lederman’s team is working on just such improvements and continues to perform the MRI procedure on patients.. The researchers also hope to develop techniques that will allow MRI to guide nonsurgical catheter treatments.

Related seminar: Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Imaging

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