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Release: Immediate

Cardiovascular MRI complements other heart imaging systems at UIHC

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Cardiovascular MRI imaging complements other leading-edge heart imaging systems available to patients at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said

Michael Vannier, M.D., UI professor and head of radiology and an internationally known expert in cardiac imaging technologies.

"The University of Iowa is almost unique in its ability to offer the full range of cardiac imaging resources to patients and participants in heart-related studies," Vannier said. "Very few health care centers worldwide have what we have right here in our own backyard."

In fact, Vannier added, the leading textbook in the field of cardiac imaging was originally authored by the late Melvin Marcus, M.D., a former UI cardiologist, and is now edited by David Skorton, M.D., vice president for research at the UI.

In addition to CVMRI, other UI imaging systems include:

* Ultrafast CT, also called Electron Beam CT, an advanced screening system that provides patients with a quick, low-cost glimpse of their risk for heart disease. This simple, five-minute test saves lives by identifying and quantifying the amount of calcium build-up in a patient's coronary arteries-a potentially lethal problem that may not cause chest pain or other symptoms. William Stanford, M.D., UI professor of radiology who oversees the UI's Ultrafast CT program, is an international pioneer in the field.

* Cardiovascular MRI, the FDA-approved magnetic resonance system that detects evidence of heart disease in seemingly healthy people and those with symptoms of heart disease (the vastly improved CVMRI system being developed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and several other centers nationwide is a modified version of this same system). CVMRI's superb contrast resolution provides patients with excellent visualization of the heart's chambers and cardiac motion.

* Echocardiography is yet another valuable tool for preserving heart health, an ultrasound-based system that produces real-time images of the patient's heart valves and the pumping action of the heart muscle. Combined with Doppler techniques, it shows the flow of blood through the heart and reveals abnormal valve leakage. Patients receiving echocardiography are not exposed to radiation; in fact, the technique is so safe that UI specialists use it to diagnose congenital heart defects in the fetus even before birth. The UI Echocardiography Laboratory is directed by Richard Kerber, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine, one of the founders of echocardiography in the United States. Kerber is the current president of the American Society of Echocardiography.

* Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (P.E.T.), an advanced technology that benefits select patients with coronary artery disease by providing diagnostic information about heart muscle viability using metabolic evaluation.

* Cardiac nuclear imaging, a safe means of studying the patient's heart muscle performance in relation to exercise and angina.

* Digital cardiac catheterization laboratory, a highly specialized facility where UI cardiologists and engineers perform pioneering research into today's critically important digital cardiac imaging systems.

"Everyone is different," Vannier said. "Therefore, we have to make informed decisions about which of these wonderful technologies is most appropriate for each patient. In any event, patients with heart disease or symptoms of heart disease have a wide range of instruments available at the UI that could potentially save or prolong their lives."

9/8/98