Scientists Test New Heart Scanner

16 February 2010 (Last Updated February 16th, 2010 18:30)

A new heart imaging method to improve computed tomography (CT) to detect cardiac disease has been tested for the first time by researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in the US. CT scanners have previously been used for the non-invasive detection of blockages or

A new heart imaging method to improve computed tomography (CT) to detect cardiac disease has been tested for the first time by researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in the US.

CT scanners have previously been used for the non-invasive detection of blockages or narrowing of the heart blood vessels, but have until now not been used to evaluate the blood supply of the heart muscle itself.

The second-generation dual-source CT scanner allows doctors to image the heart vessels and the heart blood supply with a non-invasive CT scan based on a "shuttle" mode, which performs several quick sweeps over a patient's heart during the infusion of an iodine-based contrast medium (dye).

This technique can observe and measure the passage of the dye through the heart muscle and detect areas that do not receive enough blood and allow detecting or excluding narrowing or blockages of the heart blood vessels.

In addition, the viability of damaged heart muscle tissue can be assessed, and the success of bypass surgery predicted, all with non-invasive CT.

This newest CT scanner generation has the potential to evolve into a stand-alone method for imaging all aspects of coronary heart disease, MUSC researchers said.