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Cardiac Diagnostic Imaging Unique In New Zealand

Media release

07 April 2004

Cardiac Diagnostic Imaging Unique In New Zealand

Cardiologists at North Shore Hospital say patients will benefit from new heart monitoring equipment which allows a level of clinical cardiac imaging that is unique in New Zealand.

Magnitude Monitoring System has been installed on the hospital’s MRI scanner and increases the capabilities of cardiac MRI imaging creating a ‘one stop shop’ diagnostic system.

Drs Jonathan Christiansen and Colin Edwards, who work at North Shore Hospital, are the only two cardiologists in New Zealand trained to work with the equipment and say they are excited about its potential.

“Diagnostic cardiac MRI scanning has been performed at North Shore Hospital for the past year and there has been an increasing demand for this new technique,” says Dr Christiansen.

“The hospital is now recognised as one of the leading centres for cardiac MRI in Australasia. Internationally it is increasingly accepted that cardiac MRI provides the best diagnostic imaging for a wide range of heart conditions.”

Dr Edwards says one of the most exciting aspects of the equipment is its ability to perform safe and accurate cardiac stress testing.

“Stress testing is used in the evaluation of patients with coronary artery disease and angina. The addition of stress testing to cardiac MR imaging effectively provides all the clinical information required in a single scanning session,” he says.

Magnitude enables cardiologists to carry out safe stress testing at the same time as other special cardiac programmess in the MRI scanner.

The scanner also produces non-invasive pictures of the heart with much greater clarity than has been achieved in the past. The exact location and extent of a heart attack and other heart damage can be identified, allowing an evidence-based prediction of the degree to which the heart muscle will recover.

“It allows a more informed and accurate decision to be made on whether the patient should be treated medically or surgically,” says Dr Christiansen.

“The images are very high quality and the scanner’s extra unique functions mean we are able to make a safer, more accurate, and comprehensive diagnosis than ever before. It rationalises the number of tests we need to do on patients, and is non-invasive, which is preferable, especially for older people. Because the images can be obtained in 3-D we can easily and quickly assess the heart for problems such as scarring and areas with reduced blood flow.”

He says it is a very safe diagnostic test for cardiac patients because it has an intensive care unit level of monitoring while it is being done.

“Safety is a very important aspect of a stress test because we have to put hearts that may be severely damaged under a certain amount of stress to reach a diagnosis. Although the equipment does not replace the need for catheterisation in all cases, it does have the potential to identify patients who need an angiogram and those who don’t. For people requiring surgery it gives surgeons a far more accurate diagnostic picture of the interior of the heart before they begin any surgery.”

Dr Christiansen says patients with pacemakers cannot go into the scanner but almost all other patients with metal implants such as artificial valves and orthopaedic pins can be safely scanned.


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