X-ray computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the cardiovascular system

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Both electron beam (or ultrafast) x-ray computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are developing cardiovascular imaging modalities that can provide high temporal and spatial resolution images of the beating heart and the great vessels in the outpatient setting. The three-dimensional registration of these images has facilitated numerous studies, showing that these devices are capable of quantitating cardiovascular anatomy, function, and blood flow. Continued research employing these methodologies has examined both applications that are complementary to more traditional noninvasive cardiology tools, such as two-dimensional echocardiography and radionuclide and perfusion imaging, as well as applications unique to computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. This review discusses progress made in x-ray computed tomography, focusing on the application of electron beam computed tomography and new applications of magnetic resonance imaging within the past 2 years. Specific comments are made regarding these applications, as well as the limitations of both with regard to general clinical applications.

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