Magnetic resonance cardiac perfusion imaging-a clinical perspective

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Abstract

Coronary artery disease (CAD) with its clinical appearance of stable or unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction is the leading cause of death in developed countries. In view of increasing costs and the rising number of CAD patients, there has been a major interest in reliable non-invasive imaging techniques to identify CAD in an early (i.e. asymptomatic) stage. Since myocardial perfusion deficits appear very early in the “ischemic cascade”, a major breakthrough would be the non-invasive quantification of myocardial perfusion before functional impairment might be detected. Therefore, there is growing interest in other, target-organ-specific parameters, such as relative and absolute myocardial perfusion imaging. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has been proven to offer attractive concepts in this respect. However, some important difficulties have not been resolved so far, which still causes uncertainty and prevents the broad application of MR perfusion imaging in a clinical setting. This review explores recent technical developments in MR hardware, software and contrast agents, as well as their impact on the current and future clinical status of MR imaging of first-pass myocardial perfusion imaging.

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