Radiology Study at Northwestern Memorial Finds MR Angiography Better Detects High-risk Heart Patients
A study led by a team of radiologists and researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University was featured on the cover of the December 2007 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR). Lead author Xin Liu, MD, PhD, and colleagues found that coronary magnetic resonance (MR) angiography is better than 64-slice computed tomography (CT) angiography at detecting narrowing arteries in the heart, thus enabling the identification of patients with the greatest risk for heart disease.
Making a diagnosis from 64-slice CT scans can be challenging due to imaging distortions that cause blind spots from the high-density calcifications in the arteries. To prove their hypothesis, the hearts of 18 patients with moderate-to-severe calcium in their arteries were imaged. The three devices used to visualize the heart included, the 64-slice CT angiography, an x-ray test that provides hundreds of three dimensional images; the coronary MR angiography, a test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves without x-rays; and the X-ray coronary angiography, a diagnostic x-ray test.
The research team discovered that coronary MR angiography provides better visualization of the inside of the arteries in the heart and improved diagnostic performance over coronary CT angiography for patients at highest risk for heart disease and heart attack.
"Initially coronary MR angiography did not reliably provide good diagnostic data, but the technique has gotten better and better," explains Dr. Liu. "Now with MR imaging, we can see inside the arteries of the heart and make better diagnoses."
Dr. Liu, a native of China, came to Northwestern Memorial a year and a half ago to work with the multidisciplinary cardiovascular imaging program in the Department of Radiology. This was his first scientific paper written in English. “MR angiography could be a promising noninvasive alternative for detecting heart disease risk in a select population,” Dr. Liu adds.