MR scanner gives unique information about myocardial blood flow

As the first hospital in Europe, Skåne University Hospital has started using a new cardiac MR scanner enabling assessment of blood flow through the myocardial microvasculature. Microvascular dysfunction can cause angina pain without signs of coronary artery disease, referred to as microvascular angina – a condition that mostly affects women.

“These patients have previously been sent home without a diagnosis, because it was not possible to find the underlying cause of their chest pain”, says Henrik Engblom, consultant in clinical physiology at Skåne University Hospital and associate professor at Lund University.

Henrik Engblom is part of the Lund Cardiac MR group, which is led by Professor Håkan Arheden at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital. The Lund Cardiac MR group has proved the clinical utility of the new MR scanner technique in a collaboration with researchers from the world's largest research institute: the National Institute of Health (NIH), Washington DC, United States.

Enabling studies of disease mechanisms in a new way

As the new MR scanner is put into use, it means that physicians at Skåne University Hospital can get more detailed information about the myocardial blood flow.

With this information, new aspects of cardiac disease mechanisms in, for example, diabetes and heart failure, can be studied in a way that has not been possible before with MR.

“Our hope is that the new scanner and technique will help us to diagnose patients at an earlier stage, thereby finding the right treatment with better prognosis and fewer unnecessary interventions as a result”, says Henrik Engblom.

Increased capacity

In addition to better diagnostics, the MR scanner also increases the hospital’s capacity to examine patients with suspected coronary artery disease.

“The examination takes about 45 minutes with the new MR scanner, compared to up to six hours with today's clinical routine examination”, says Henrik Engblom.

Skåne University Hospital will continue to collaborate with NIH and hospitals in London to study how the new MR technique affects the examination, treatment and prognosis of patients with suspected coronary artery disease.