We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us

Download Mobile App

MRI Technology to Visualize Metabolic Processes in Real Time Could Improve Heart Disease Diagnosis

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 21 Nov 2022
Print article
Image: Hyperpolarized MRI technology reveals changes in heart muscle’s sugar metabolism after heart attack (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)
Image: Hyperpolarized MRI technology reveals changes in heart muscle’s sugar metabolism after heart attack (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an indispensable part of medicine. It allows unique insights into the body and diagnosis of various diseases. However, current MRI technology has its limitations: although it can be used to map the structure and function of organs and tissues, it cannot be used to map changes in metabolism, which play a key role in many diseases. However, researchers are now aiming to make that possible by advancing MRI technology so that it can be used to visualize metabolism in real time. The researchers are focusing on the heart, the metabolism of which is particularly complex because it can choose from multiple energy sources. Their new MRI new method to visualize metabolic processes in the body could improve the future diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

The heart is constantly in motion, which makes imaging a big challenge. Another challenge is that the metabolic molecules are present only in small concentrations – too small to capture with conventional magnetic resonance imaging. Researchers at ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) and the University of Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) have succeeded in overcoming these obstacles with the help of hyperpolarized MRI: with it, the researchers can amplify the signal of metabolic molecules by a factor of more than 25,000. The research team adapted hyperpolarized MRI to the specific needs of cardiac and metabolic imaging. The result is a device of the size of a refrigerator operating alongside a clinical MRI machine. The “fridge” certainly lives up to its name: to increase the signal strength, a sugar intermediate (pyruvate) is deep-frozen at −272 degrees Celsius and then magnetized in a magnetic field with the help of microwaves. Once it has been warmed back to body temperature, pyruvate can be used for imaging in a way similar to conventional contrast agents.

This novel method is able to show, non-invasively and in real time, how the heart metabolizes nutrients – in other words, how it converts them into usable energy. While conventional MRI can show whether the heart is pumping and how, the method now also reveals where the heart gets its energy from. To be able to capture and understand this in detail is a major development, especially with regard to heart disease. A problem with metabolism can be an early sign of a heart condition. For example: Under normal circumstances, the heart primarily uses fat as an energy source. If there is a lack of oxygen, however, the heart switches over to sugar as an energy source, as this requires less oxygen to metabolize. If physicians were able to detect such processes by imaging, they could identify a possible oxygen deficiency at an early stage. This would pave the way towards treating the causes of cardiovascular diseases, and not just their effects.

The researchers were able to show that the method they developed does indeed do a good job of visualizing the heart’s metabolism. Pigs were used as a model, as their hearts are most similar to the human heart. This made it possible to map the metabolic changes following a heart attack in detail. Among other things, the study revealed the parts of the heart muscle which recovered after the infarction. The new MRI method could become an important step towards personalized medicine. The researchers hope that the innovative procedure will also help physicians understand why certain people have much greater impairment after a heart attack than others. However, the method has to prove itself in larger clinical studies in the coming years. To this end, the researchers will further refine the technology of the prototype “fridge”. The researchers have also launched their first clinical trial in which patients with heart failure or risk factors for heart failure will be examined.

“For us physicians, it’s very valuable to map the metabolism of the heart. In the future, this could enable us to improve diagnoses and prognoses of heart disease – and thus to tailor treatment more closely to the individual,” said Professor Robert Manka, Director of Cardiac MRI at the Heart Center of University Hospital Zurich. “Metabolism probably plays a role in this, but we don’t know it yet. In the future, we’ll be able to see what’s really going on in the heart muscle and its cells.”

Related Links:
ETH Zurich
University of Zurich

Gold Supplier
Ultrasound System
Gold Supplier
Electrode Solution and Skin Prep
Mobile Imaging Table
medifa 8000 hybrid
Bladder Scanner

Print article



view channel
Image: Intelligent NR provides high-quality diagnostic images containing significantly less grainy noise (Photo courtesy of Canon)

AI-Driven DR System Produces Higher Quality Images While Limiting Radiation Doses in Pediatric Patients

Ionizing radiation is a fundamental element in producing diagnostic X-rays, yet it's widely acknowledged for its cancer risk potential. Digital projection radiography, a vital imaging modality, accounts... Read more


view channel
Image: The new ultrasound patch can measure how full the bladder is (Photo courtesy of MIT)

Ultrasound Patch Designed to Monitor Bladder and Kidney Health Could Enable Earlier Cancer Diagnosis

Bladder dysfunction and related health issues affect millions worldwide. Monitoring bladder volume is crucial for assessing kidney health. Traditionally, this requires a visit to a medical facility and... Read more

Nuclear Medicine

view channel
Image: A novel PET radiotracer facilitates early, noninvasive detection of IBD (Photo courtesy of Karmanos)

New PET Radiotracer Aids Early, Noninvasive Detection of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract affecting roughly seven million individuals globally.... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel
Image: Artificial intelligence predicts therapy responses for ovarian cancer (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

AI Model Combines Blood Test and CT Scan Analysis to Predict Therapy Responses in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Ovarian cancer annually impacts thousands of women, with many diagnoses occurring at advanced stages due to subtle early symptoms. High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma, which accounts for 70-80% of ovarian... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel
Image: The new Medical Imaging Suite makes healthcare imaging data more accessible, interoperable and useful (Photo courtesy of Google Cloud)

New Google Cloud Medical Imaging Suite Makes Imaging Healthcare Data More Accessible

Medical imaging is a critical tool used to diagnose patients, and there are billions of medical images scanned globally each year. Imaging data accounts for about 90% of all healthcare data1 and, until... Read more

Industry News

view channel
Image: Attendees can discover innovative products and technology in the RSNA 2023 Technical Exhibits (Photo courtesy of RSNA)

RSNA 2023 Technical Exhibits to Offer Innovations in AI, 3D Printing and More

The 109th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA, Oak Brook, IL, USA) to be held in Chicago, Nov. 26 to 30 is all set to offer a vast array of medical... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2023 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.