Assessment of Cardiovascular Blood Flow Using 4D Flow MRI

CMIV is one of the leading centres in the world when it comes to imaging blood flow dynamics in the heart. Analysing the heart ads an extra dimension to the imaging since it is in constant motion. Studying blood flow with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been done for many years. But this project has developed a method for flow quantification using MRI which allows for simultaneous measurement of time-resolved, three-dimensional (time + 3D = 4D) blood flow velocity and turbulence intensity. This method reveals blood flow patterns in the heart and the large vessels.

Assessment of Cardiovascular Blood Flow Using 4D Flow MRIFoto: Oskar Luren

Next generation cardiac disease assessment

Despite the primacy of flow, cardiac diagnostics still rely almost exclusively on tools focused on morphological assessment. Flow characteristics are often assumed rather than measured directly. The objective of this project is to develop the next generation of methods for the non-invasive quantitative assessment of cardiac diseases and therapies by focusing on blood flow dynamics, with the goals of earlier and more accurate detection and improved management of cardiac diseases.

The project is now working on optimizing the accuracy, measurement time, and robustness of 4D flow MRI and have good hope of bringing the technique to clinical use in the near future. Imaging that is focused on answering the most relevant questions, with an eye towards tangible improvements in diagnosis, therapy and outcomes can facilitate treatment of cardiac patients with higher quality and lower costs.

Loosing ground against cardiovascular diseases

The primary purpose of the cardiovascular system is to drive, control and maintain blood flow to all parts of the body. The heart acts as the pump in this system, and has as task to move blood through the body. Using a complex and ingenious, interplay between muscle contraction and valve function, it fulfils this task amazingly efficient, during rest and exercise for about a hundred years.
Sometimes small abnormalities occur, at birth or by disease. The heart can compensate for this to some extent, but they can also lead to inefficient pump function and sometimes to a cascade of more severe abnormalities. But because of obesity, diabetes and an aging population we continue to loose ground against cardiovascular diseases. 

Cardiovascular blood flow is the heart of the matter

Cardiovascular blood flow is still to a large extent unknown. In order to define relevant parameters, development of analysis and visualization approaches and studies of normal and abnormal blood flow have to be performed in chorus.

Studying cardiovascular blood flow dynamics in patients and healthy subjects will improve our understanding of the roles of flow dynamics in health and disease, leading to improved cardiac diagnostics, novel assessments of pharmaceutical, interventional, and surgical therapies, and promoting exploration of new avenues for management of cardiac disorders.

At CMIV, we are one of the leading centers in the world when it comes to imaging blood flow dynamics in the heart.

Tino Ebbers, Professor in Cardiovascular Physiology

Project leader
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