The advanced imaging area is concerned with the application of high technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients. There have been huge advances in imaging of the heart over the last 20 years, and we need to realise their full potential.
We are focused on three major imaging areas:
CMR (cardiovascular magnetic resonance), which uses radio waves and magnets to take images of the heart, and because it avoids X-rays, is extremely safe. We have installed a state-of-the-art CMR scanner and, with a dedicated team of expert physicists and clinicians, we are developing new ways to diagnose heart abnormality and assess risk.
Interventional heart technologies – our state-of-the-art catheter laboratory, which has a range of imaging technology, will enable us to image the coronary arteries in ultra-high resolution from the inside, as well as determine the causes of electrical instability in the heart.
All together, these capabilities offer the opportunity to research into heart abnormalities at a world-class level.
Cardiac diffusion tensor imaging
We are working to image the architecture of the heart using a complex technique known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This uses cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in which radio waves are used to form heart images.
We can image the 'fibres' of the heart by knowing that water molecules can travel along the fibres of the heart more easily than they can travel across the fibres. This difference allows us to determine how the fibres align together, and wind around the heart in spiral patterns.
DTI has potential to identify conditions where the fibre alignment may be abnormal, and work continues to identify whether this can be clinical useful in conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
We have collaborated with University of Oxford in testing how reproducible this technique is across different centres.
Safe and effective minimally invasive catheter-based treatments need to be developed for the diagnosis, risk stratification and treatment of an increasing number and variety of patients with advanced and complex heart diseases.
For many of these patients, conventional treatments are either too high risk or unavailable. The goals of the research are to develop innovative approaches to address this unmet need.
The main foci of the research programme are:
to develop new ways of integrating advanced heart imaging techniques to improve the diagnosis of heart disease, understand underlying mechanisms with a view to identifying new treatment targets, and providing early assessment of the long term outcomes of new treatments.
to use real time 4D image integration of intravascular, projection and cross-sectional imaging to improve the efficacy and safety of advanced endovascular interventions, such as targeted injection of stem cells into the heart and valve implantation.
Cardiac arrhythmia (a too fast or irregular heart beat) can range from being completely symptomless in a patient to being instantly life-threatening.
We will investigate two of the most common arrhythmias namely atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia with the help of sophisticated imaging technology and novel biomarkers. Although most arrhythmias can be treated either with drugs or with catheter procedures, proper understanding of the causing factors is still scarce.
Together with mathematicians, physicists, anatomists and engineers, cardiologists will pioneer novel ways to understand the individual heart and electrical properties of arrhythmia patients. This additional information will help:
tailor the treatment to the individual patient
minimise the risk of complication
maximise the benefit of ablation procedures and reduce the need for repeated treatments.
Special emphasis will be put on reducing radiation exposure during interventions by ultimately performing these in the magnetic resonance imaging scanner.
Our imaging researchers