Dr. James White, a cardiologist and core research scientist with BIRC led the team responsible for today's announced breakthrough offering cardiologists and surgeons a new imaging technique producing a single, 3D high-resolution image of the heart.
White successfully visualized the heart's blood vessels and a myocardial scar at the same time. A first!
|Dr. S. de Ribaupierre|
It was pointed out that these technologies are known to occasionally to give false positives or false negatives. Possibly the best known example of this was reported by neuroscientist Craig Bennett, then a graduate student at Dartmouth College, who scanned the brain of a dead salmon and the natural noise inherent in the fMRI data 'revealed' the dead fish was thinking.
|This fMRI date 'revealed' the dead fish was thinking. BIRC holds the promise of improved imaging with increased diagnostic accuracy and fewer false positives.|
Injuries to the heart from heart attacks or viral inflammation can result in permanent damage or scarring of the heart muscle. Using a 3-Tesla MRI White and his team constructed a three dimensional model of a patient's heart clearly showing the relationship between the heart's blood vessels and a permanent injury. Dr. White said, "This will help direct surgeons and cardiologists to better target the blood vessels that lead to (healthy) muscle . . . " and improve the outlooks for patients requiring pacemakers, bypass surgery or angioplasties.
|Dr. A. Fenster|
The Biomedical Imaging Research Centre is about more than scanners it is about people. BIRC brings together researchers from Western's Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Lawson Health and Research Institute, Robarts Research Institute, the biomedical-engineering graduate program at the UWO and more. 150 graduate students plus 50 associate scientists in basic and clinical research will work with dozens of BIRC core scientists.
Fenster said, "We assembled the centre with the vision to become the most successful integrated biomedical-research program in Canada . . . to become one of the top five in the world . . . "
This is research with almost immediate practical applications. According to de Ribaupierre, there is no point in pushing scanning technology "if you are not going to use it clinically." To this end, the researchers will be working closely with clinicians.
|Dr. M. Strong|
Today's breakthrough announcement adds weight to Strong's strong words.
As someone who recently had an MRI with another yet to come, two 25 minute trips through a nuclear scanning device, a transesophageal echocardiogram and looking at the possibility of undergoing a cardiac ablation, I know how important accurate imaging is to the successful outcome of some very serious medical procedures. When I heard about the Biomedical Imaging Research Centre press conference, I just had to attend and report.