UK team develops 3D computing MR technique to bypass gadolinium in heart study

September 03, 2019
by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent
A new imaging test combines MR with 3D offline analysis to detect cardiac tissue damaged in a heart attack, without the need for gadolinium. The method, which uses hierarchical template matching, was developed by a research team at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick, in the U.K.

“The current clinical practice involves usage of gadolinium-based contrast to diagnose infarction (scarred muscles) in the heart as it provides promising accuracy," Jayendra Maganbhai Bhalodiya, lead author, Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at the university told HCB News. Achieving that accuracy without the need for gadolinium, which has raised concerns in recent years for its tendency to linger in the body and increase the risk of kidney failure, could improve patient outcomes and lower costs, he added.

MR is commonly used to diagnose cardiac diseases such as cardiomyopathy, heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, and other heart diseases. “In a typical MR test, the radiographer does non-gadolinium MR then, additionally, gadolinium-based MR," said Bhalodiya. "Often a patient is claustrophobic and suffers from panic attack or anxiety, therefore, reducing the scanning time is really important."

Since the hierarchical template matching method relies on offline image processing from a single MR scan, it means less time spent by the patient undergoing imaging. The method was validated in 43 patients — 38 heart attack patients and a control group of five healthy patients, according to Bhalodiya. In the article, entitled "Hierarchical Template Matching for 3D Myocardial Tracking and Cardiac Strain Estimation" and published in the journal Scientific Reports, the authors noted that cardiovascular disease is a burden on the global population and that 3D imaging capability is gaining more support and applications.

"Using our 3D MR computing technique we can see in more depth what is happening to the heart, more precisely to each heart muscle, and diagnose any issues such as remodeling of the heart that causes heart failure," said Mark Williams, co-author, and professor at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick. “The new method avoids the risk of damaging the kidney opposite to what traditional methods do by using gadolinium."