Cardiac MR imaging: current status and future direction
Coronary artery disease is currently a worldwide epidemic with increasing impact on healthcare systems. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences give complementary information on LV function, regional perfusion, angiogenesis, myocardial viability and orientations of myocytes. T2-weighted short-tau inversion recovery (T2-STIR), fat suppression and black blood sequences have been frequently used for detecting edematous area at risk (AAR) of infarction. T2 mapping, however, indicated that the edematous reaction in acute myocardial infarct (AMI) is not stable and warranted the use of edematous area in evaluating therapies. On the other hand, cine MRI demonstrated reproducible data on LV function in healthy volunteers and LV remodeling in patients. Noninvasive first pass perfusion, using exogenous tracer (gadolinium-based contrast media) and arterial spin labeling MRI, using endogenous tracer (water), are sensitive and useful techniques for evaluating myocardial perfusion and angiogenesis. Recently, new strategies have been developed to quantify myocardial viability using T1-mapping and equilibrium contrast enhanced MR techniques because existing delayed contrast enhancement MRI (DE-MRI) sequences are limited in detecting patchy microinfarct and diffuse fibrosis. These new techniques were successfully used for characterizing diffuse myocardial fibrosis associated with myocarditis, amyloidosis, sarcoidosis heart failure, aortic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, restrictive cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia and hypertension). Diffusion MRI provides information regarding microscopic tissue structure, while diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) helps to characterize the myocardium and monitor the process of LV remodeling after AMI. Novel trends in hybrid imaging, such as cardiac positron emission tomography (PET)/MRI and optical imaging/MRI, are recently under intensive investigation. With the promise of higher spatial-temporal resolution and 3D coverage in the near future, cardiac MRI will be an indispensible tool in the diagnosis of cardiac diseases, coronary intervention and myocardial therapeutic delivery.