Heart Imaging

Figure Caption: Images obtained in a dog following a heart attack and the injection of radioactively labelled stem cells. A and B are images obtained using the CT component of the SPECT/CT system. Arrows point to the darkened areas on each image, which outlines the extent of the heart muscle injury following a heart attack. In C and D, now adding the SPECT component, the bright spot demonstrates the location of the stem cells that have been injected either on the outside (C) or inside (D) of the heart.
Future Directions

Research Directions: refining our ability to 1) track stem cells in vivo, 2) monitor scar deposition in vivo,
3) augment the residence time of cardiac stem cells
Clinical Trials: 1) IMAGE-HF: a CIHR-funded study to determine the impact of advanced cardiac imaging procedures on outcomes in patients with poor heart function, 2) Rb-ARMI: given the current shortage of radioactive Tc, this CIHR-funded work will determine if Rubidium PET imaging can be used as an alternative agent to monitor myocardial blood flow
Industrial partners: Dr. Lee continues to work with GE Healthcare to develop methods for the accurate measurement of myocardial blood flow using contrast enhanced CT

The main focus of this research is to improve the accuracy of cardiac diagnosis by improving our abilities to a) diagnose the presence or absence of coronary disease, the major killer in Western civilizations; b) determine the effect of coronary disease on blood flow to the heart; c) determine the extent of scar formation in the heart. Scar is the final end-product of a number of cardiac disease processes, including heart attack and inflammatory conditions. The determination of the extent of scar plays a major role in determining the appropriateness of a number of interventions: coronary artery bypass surgery, implantable defibrillators, and specialized pacemakers. We are also assessing the role of stem cells to limit the extent of scar formation.

F.S. Prato
Director, Lawson Imaging Program
G. Wisenberg
Director, Cardiac Imaging
J.A. White
Director, Cardiac MRI
R.T. Thompson
Director, MR Spectroscopy
T.-Y. Lee
Director, PET/CT program
R.Z. Stodilka
SPECT/CT Imaging
D. Goldhawk
Molecular Imaging
Cyclotron & PET Radiochemistry
Molecular Imaging


Key Accomplishments

Our group has developed a number of key cardiac imaging technologies:
• MR method to image myocardial infarction in vivo – We were the first in the world to demonstrate this innovation which has been pivotal in all subsequent applications of Cardiac MRI for the assessment of location and extent of heart muscle injury.
• Gd-DTPA as a contrast agent for MRI to precisely delineate the anatomic extent of scar – This is applicable to a variety of cardiac diseases including myocardial infarction and a number of inflammatory conditions. This technique, applied to 5,000,000 patients annually, plays a major role in guiding clinicians to management decisions to improve patient outcomes
• CT method to measure blood flow to heart muscle – This technique allows the concurrent evaluation of the coronary artery anatomy to determine if an obstruction is present, and, at the same time, to assess the effect of that obstruction on blood flow to the heart.
• method to radioactively label stem cells and allow their tracking following injection into injured heart muscle
• means of introducing into stem cells a gene which will augment their ability to take in surrounding iron – This will allow one to track the location and functional activity of transplanted stem cells indefinitely.

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