Combined imaging techniques best identify plaque in the aorta

April 01, 2003

The following news tip is based on an abstract/poster to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 52nd Scientific Session, held March 30--April 2 in Chicago.

Pairing transesophageal magnetic resonance imaging (TE MRI) with standard cardiac MRI offers physicians great views of plaque buildup in the aorta, the heart's main artery. This vessel typically is difficult to view via imaging techniques because of its location in the middle of the body.

"Using individual coils with standard MRI, the closest you can get to the area is 6 to 10 centimeters away, which can create enough noise that you lose part of the signal," says lead author Henning Steen, M.D., a cardiology research fellow. "In TE MRI, a receiver is threaded through the nose to the esophagus, revealing more of the aorta and arteries and, consequently, the extent of plaque."

Steen and colleagues took 228 images of 30 patients' aortas using the combined imaging techniques. They placed radiology coils, devices that function as transmitters, on the patients' chests and upper backs, and placed a transesophageal coil in the esophagus. To assess the techniques' accuracy, they compared two MRIs taken a week apart on 10 patients, looking for plaque thickness, area and volume. The combined approach provided better images than the individual techniques 93 percent of the time.
Related links:

American College of Cardiology 52nd Scientific Session
Johns Hopkins Division of Cardiology

Johns Hopkins Medicine

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