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New MRI Technique Identifies Early-Stage Coronary Disease

Success rate was higher than with standard MRI (Oct. 9)

According to an October 9 announcement from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., researchers are closer to finding an imaging technique that can identify thickening of the coronary artery wall — an early stage of coronary artery disease (CAD). The new report was published online in Radiology.

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the wall thickness of the coronary arteries in 26 patients with at least one risk factor for CAD and in 12 healthy control subjects. The mean age of the patients, which included 13 men and 13 women, was 48 years; the control group included three men and nine women with a mean age of 26 years.

To measure the coronary artery wall thickness in each participant, the researchers used both a single-frame MRI scan and an MRI technique called time-resolved multi-frame acquisition, in which five continuous images are captured in order to increase the success rate of obtaining an image free of blurring.

Using the time-resolved multi-frame acquisition method, the success rate for obtaining a usable image was 90% versus a success rate of 76% for the single-frame method.

Use of the time-resolved multi-frame technique also resulted in a greater ability to detect a significant difference between wall-thickness measurements in CAD patients and healthy participants, as well as a smaller standard deviation, which indicates more precise measurements.

Lead investigator Khaled Z. Abd-Elmoniem, PhD, said that unlike tests that measure cholesterol and lipids in the blood, which can be indicators of atherosclerosis, the thickness of coronary-artery walls is a direct measurement of early-stage CAD. He said additional studies are needed to validate the time-resolved multi-frame MRI technique.

For more information, visit the RSNA Web site.

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