New PET/CMR imaging agent accurately illuminates life-threatening blood clots

A new imaging agent can help doctors detect potentially life-threatening blood clots without using invasive tubes and sedation, according to a recent study published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Typically, clots related to atrial fibrillation are diagnosed by inserting a large tube into a patient’s esophagus and performing an ultrasound. But Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found success using a new PET agent to spot such clots noninvasively.

MGH specialists performed an experimental study with eight healthy patients, finding the agent safely leaves tissue within hours while revealing the location of blood clots.

“The idea behind the technology is that the agent will find and bind to blood clots anywhere in the body—not just in the heart—and make the clots detectable like a bright star in the night sky,” David Sosnovik, MD, director of MGH’s Program in Cardiovascular Imaging, said Monday.

Sosnovik and his team initially tested the safety profile of the PET/cardiac MRI radiotracer [64Cu]FBP8 in the volunteers and found the agent is quickly expelled from the body if no clots are discovered. After this, the group injected participants with atrial fibrillation as well as those without the rapid heart rate condition.

The molecular imaging approach proved highly accurate for detecting both acute and older blood clots. With further testing, PET/CMRI exams using [64Cu]FBP8 may have an outsized impact on patient care, the authors noted.

“Obviously much more work and many more studies will need to be done before this changes routine clinical practice, but this first-in-human study is an important step,” Sosnovik said in a statement. “Importantly, this smart or molecularly targeted agent can be used to detect clots anywhere in the body.”

Read the entire study here.

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The study, published in JACC: Vascular Interventions, examined 619 patients who underwent PCI for LM CAD.

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