Lead researcher Dr Pankaj Garg, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School and an Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at NNUH, said: “Heart failure is a dreadful condition resulting from rising pressures inside the heart. The best method to diagnose heart failure is by invasive assessment, which is not preferred as it has risks. “An ultrasound scan of the heart called echocardiography is routinely used to measure the peak velocity of blood flow through the mitral valve of the heart. However, this method can be unreliable.
“We have been researching one of the most cutting-edge methods of flow assessment inside the heart called 4D flow MRI. “In 4D flow MRI, we can look at the flow in three directions over time – the fourth dimension.”
PhD student Hosamadin Assadi, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This new technology is revolutionising how patients with heart disease are diagnosed.
“However, it takes up to 20 minutes to carry out a 4D flow MRI and we know that patients do not like having long MRI scans. “So, we collaborated with General Electric Healthcare to investigate the reliability of a new technique that uses super-fast methods to scan the flow in the heart, called Kat-ARC. “We found that this halves the scanning time – and takes around eight minutes.
“We have also shown how this non-invasive imaging technique can measure the peak velocity of blood flow in the heart accurately and precisely.” The team tested the new technology with 50 patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Sheffield.
Patients with suspected heart failure were assessed using the new Kat-ARC 4D heart flow MRI. Dr Garg said: “This technology is revolutionising how we assess heart disease and our research paves the way for the super-fast 4D flow MRI scans by halving the scan time.
“This will benefit hospitals and patients across the whole world,” he added. NNUH Medical Director Prof Erika Denton said: “NNUH is proud to have taken part in ground-breaking research which has the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with heart disease.”