2006 Volume 5 Issue 1 Pages 33-40
With the development of fast scan techniques and technical advances in software, cardiac MRI can now be used for morphological and functional evaluation of the heart with good reliability and high spatial and temporal resolution. Cardiac MRI is employed at many institutions, mainly for assessing ischemic heart disease. Cardiac MRI can be used to identify coronary artery stenosis, evaluate myocardial viability, assess left ventricular wall motion and function, measure coronary blood flow and flow reserve, and obtain other useful information for the diagnosis of ischemic heart disease in a single examination, serving as a true comprehensive cardiac study. With regard to the evaluation of coronary artery stenosis, new techniques, such as whole-heart coronary MRA, permit visualization of the coronary arteries to their peripheral branches without contrast agent. Good results have been reported for whole-heart MRA as compared with X-ray coronary angiography (CAG). Attempts to evaluate plaque characteristics by visualizing the walls of the coronary arteries have also been reported recently. Technical improvements have been made in myocardial perfusion MRI to detect myocardial ischemia and in delayed contrast-enhanced MRI to assess myocardial viability, and some researchers have recently reported that the diagnostic capabilities of these techniques match or surpass those of cardiac nuclear medicine studies. We outline the features of the latest MR imaging techniques for the diagnosis of ischemic heart disease, discuss their practical applications, and compare them with other imaging modalities.