New cardiac imaging method enhances patient experience, reduces test time

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles have created a new cardiac MRI test that may increase diagnostic accuracy and reliability while improving patient comfort and decreasing test time, according to a health system press release.

Details of the technique—MR Multitasking—were published online April 9 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Traditional methods require patients hold their breath while images are taken to capture a specific part of a heartbeat—which can be challenging for cardiologists.

“It is challenging to obtain good cardiac magnetic resonance images because the heart is beating incessantly, and the patient is breathing, so the motion makes the test vulnerable to errors," said Shlomo Melmed, MB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and the dean of the Cedars-Sinai medical faculty, in the statement. "By novel approaches to this longstanding problem, this research team has found a unique solution to improve cardiac care for patients around the world for years to come." 

Instead, the team decided to embrace the motion caused by breathing and natural cardiac movements.

"Our solution is like making a video instead of a still image," said first author Anthony G. Christodoulou, PhD and research scientist in Cedars-Sinai’s Biomedical Imaging Research Institute. "MR Multitasking continuously acquires image data and then, when the test is completed, the program separates out the overlapping sources of motion and other changes into multiple time dimensions."

In the study, 10 healthy volunteers and 10 cardiac patients underwent testing. According to the authors, the results were accurate.

Additionally, the new method proved more comfortable for patients because they were not required to hold their breath. Three complete cardiac MRI tests were done in 90 seconds—much quicker than current approaches, according to the release.

"People have to breathe no matter what disease they have, so the ability to separate out the motion is important to many medical specialties," said principal investigator Debiao Li, PhD, and director of the Biomedical Research Institute.