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Noninvasive imaging technique may help kids with heart transplants
Date:7/12/2012

Cardiologists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a noninvasive imaging technique that may help determine whether children who have had heart transplants are showing early signs of rejection. The technique could reduce the need for these patients to undergo invasive imaging tests every one to two years.

The new method is described online in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

The invasive imaging test, a coronary angiogram, involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel and injecting a dye to look for dangerous plaque on the walls of arteries feeding blood to the heart. This plaque build-up indicates coronary artery disease and is a sign that the body may be rejecting the new heart. Since pediatric heart transplant patients are at high risk of developing coronary artery disease, doctors monitor their arteries on a regular basis. But recurring angiograms become problematic.

"Many of these children have undergone so many operations, we have lost access to their big blood vessels," says Charles E. Canter, MD, professor of pediatrics. "Sometimes it's impossible to do catheterization procedures on them."

Based on experience imaging other types of inflammation in arteries, senior author Samuel A. Wickline, MD, professor of medicine, and his colleagues, including Canter and medical student Mohammad H. Madani, a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow, examined whether they could assess coronary artery disease in these children using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this case, the MRI was enhanced with a commonly used contrast agent called gadolinium that is injected into the arteries. Gadolinium is not radioactive and makes areas of inflamed arteries and heart muscle show up brighter on an MRI.

"The brighter it is, the more it is associated with coronary artery disease," Canter says.

The study included 29 heart transplant patients and eight healthy children w
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Contact: Julia Evangelou Strait
straitj@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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