Landmark MRI Technology Advances Cardiac Diagnoses, Patient Experience

Advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is helping patients feel more at ease, while their doctors are getting higher quality images to better diagnose critical heart conditions.

Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute has implemented such a system. The Institute was the first in the U.S. last year to offer Philips’ Ingenia Ambition X (pictured above), the world’s first magnetic resonance system to enable helium-free operations. That means MRI practitioners can conduct testing with greater efficiency and confidence — without having to rely on helium, a scarce commodity, in its micro-cooling technology.

While providing a more comfortable experience for patients, the technology also improves patient treatment, especially for a certain type of patient with a condition known as “myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries,” or MINOCA.

(Watch now: The Baptist Health News Team hears from Constantino Pena, M.D., medical director of vascular imaging, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, about the revolutionary new MRI technology. Video by Steve Pipho.)

These patients are usually seen in the ER with typical signs of myocardial infarction, or heart attack, including chest pain and elevated enzymes and troponin (a protein in the blood that is usually a sign of recent damage to the heart muscle). They are then taken to the catheterization laboratory, or cath lab, an examination room in a hospital where diagnostic imaging equipment is used to visualize the arteries of the heart and its chambers However, these MINOCA patients have no stenosis or occlusions in the heart vessels, meaning no blockages that are normally associated with heart attacks.

The new MRI technology at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute can now help these patients. About 5 to 15 percent of patients who come to the ER assuming they are having a heart attack are actually experiencing MINOCA, says Ricardo Cury, M.D., medical director of cardiac imaging at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute and Baptist Hospital.

“(MINOCA) often occurs in younger patients, and it’s more likely to occur in women,” explains Dr. Cury. “Basically, they recommend cardiac MRI for these patients because then you can define the exact location and you can pinpoint a series of pathologies (causes and effects). There is a wide range of other possibilities that could have happened and cardiac MRI is a great indicator.”

The cardiac MRI is a significant tool for clinicians who may be left wondering whether their patient has a condition that is mimicking a heart attack, such as myocarditis, microvascular dysfunction, coronary thrombosis and reperfusion — or a number of other issues, adds Dr. Cury.

The Ingenia Ambition X incorporates a technique developed by Philips which speeds up 2D and 3D scans by up to 50 percent, with virtually equivalent image quality, even for those challenging patients.

The device also features technology that significantly improves patients’ experience during MRI exams, improving comfort and compliance. Patients are guided through the process while experiencing an immersive audio-visual experience. That feature helps them feel at ease and also results in smoother and faster exams.

“This breakthrough technology means a significant benefit for patients,” said Constantino Pena, M.D., medical director of vascular imaging, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. “Those who require an MRI exam, which is often accompanied by feelings of stress and discomfort, can now look forward to a more seamless and pleasant experience.”

Meanwhile, the addition of faster and higher quality imaging allow “us to conduct exams more efficiently, reducing unnecessary wait times that can lead to delayed diagnoses and increased costs,” adds Dr. Pena.

The Institute’s new MRI technology has been granted accreditation by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. To achieve accreditation, the Institute’s personnel qualifications, equipment requirements, quality assurance, and quality control procedures underwent a rigorous review process.

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