Main menu


Cutting-edge technology uses MRI to diagnose patients with heart failure in record time

featured image

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have developed cutting-edge technology to diagnose patients with heart failure in record time.

Cutting-edge technology uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to create detailed 4D flow images of the heart.

But unlike a standard MRI, which can take up to 20 minutes or more, the new 4D Cardiac MRI only takes eight minutes.

The results provide an accurate picture of heart valves and blood flow inside the heart, helping doctors determine the best treatment for patients.

Cardiology patients at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) were the first to test the new technology. And the team hopes their work can revolutionize the speed at which heart failure is diagnosed, benefiting hospitals and patients around the world.

Heart failure is a terrible disease resulting from increased pressures inside the heart. The best method for diagnosing heart failure is invasive evaluation, which is not preferred as it carries risks.

An ultrasound of the heart called echocardiography is commonly used to measure the maximum speed of blood flow through the mitral valve of the heart. However, this method may not be reliable.

We researched one of the most advanced methods of assessing flow inside the heart called 4D flow MRI.

In 4D flow MRI, we can observe flow in three directions over time – the fourth dimension.”

Dr Pankaj Garg, Principal Investigator, UEA Norwich Medical School and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at NNUH

Doctoral student Hosamadin Assadi, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: This new technology is revolutionizing the way patients with heart disease are diagnosed. However, it takes up to 20 minutes to perform a 4D flow MRI and we know that patients don’t like having long MRIs.

“We therefore collaborated with General Electrics Healthcare to study the reliability of a new technique that uses ultra-fast methods to analyze flow in the heart, called Kat-ARC.

“We’ve found this cuts scanning time in half – and takes about eight minutes.

“We also showed how this non-invasive imaging technique can measure peak blood flow velocity in the heart with precision and accuracy.”

The team tested the new technology with 50 patients at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Sheffield.

Patients with suspected heart failure were assessed using the new Kat-ARC 4D Cardiac Flow MRI.

Dr Garg said: “This technology is revolutionizing the way we assess heart disease and our research is paving the way for ultra-fast 4D flow MRIs by cutting acquisition time in half.

“This will benefit hospitals and patients around the world,” he added.

NNUH Medical Director Professor Erika Denton said: “NNUH is proud to have participated in groundbreaking research that has the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with heart disease.”

This project was funded by the Wellcome Trust. It was led by UEA researchers in collaboration with NNUH, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Dundee, GE Healthcare (Germany), Pie Medical Imaging (Netherlands) and the National Heart Center and Duke-NUS Medical School (both in Singapore).

‘Kat-ARC Accelerated 4D Flow CMR: Clinical Validation for Transvalvular Flow and Peak Velocity Assessment’ is published in the journal European experimental radiology September 22.


University of East Anglia