Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging: New Insights into the Structure and Function of the Heart Muscle

In Germany, magnetic resonance imaging, which has been used a million times used for the diagnosis of the head, abdomen and locomotor systems, has developed into a significant imaging technique for cardiovascular diseases. At the MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE 2016, which will take place from November 14 to 17 in Düsseldorf, an expert will present the new areas of application for this technology.

Like computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), also known as “nuclear spin”, is carried out in a longer tube. Unlike a CT, however, MRI does not need x-rays. The most significant difference, however, is that soft tissues are shown in the MRI in addition to bones. This includes the heart muscle. Since modern MRI devices enable images to be generated in quick succession, cardiologists can record the heartbeat. “Within a few years, the cardiac MRI has developed into an examination tool that can be used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels”, says Professor Michael Markl from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. This applies not only to the US, the technique is also used at universities and other larger hospitals in Germany.

According to Professor Markl, the benefits of the cardiac MRI lie in the fact that it not only shows heart muscle and heart valves in action, but doctors can also assess the blood flow. Professor Markl explains: “the dynamic propagation of the flow wave can be tracked in a quantitatively precise manner by monitoring the dynamic change of the flow profiles over the heart cycle.” According to the expert, disorders of the blood stream profiles can be an initial sign of heart valve diseases. The most common disease in old age is a narrowing of the aortic valve, impeding the transport of blood to the aorta. Professor Markl explains the consequences: “Even small constrictions cause turbulence which affect the regular procedure.”

In addition to this, the structure and function of the heart muscle can be assessed using a cardiac MRI. After the injection of a contrast agent into the vein, doctors can see whether all parts of the heart muscle are supplied with blood. “After a heart attack, the cardiac MRI shows which parts of the heart muscle have died”, says Professor Markl. A stress test can also be carried out. Patients receive a drug that dilates the blood vessels or increases muscle activity. Professor Markl explains: “In the stress MRI, we can see how the heart muscle responds to load.” Both examinations are safe as the heart activity is checked by ECG and the doctors can react quickly in case of any problems.

The cardiac MRI is also an important tool in research. We basically know little about the interaction between heart activity and the elastic blood vessels”, says Professor Markl: in a normal state, the heart pumps nearly 5 liters of blood per minute through a tubular system with capillaries that are only 0.01 mm thick and from there back to the heart. For this it only needs a power of 1 watt. Professor Markl emphasizes: “this is much more efficient than any tubular system developed by humans.” Professor Markl will discuss the performance of the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in the symposium “Acquisitions in Cardiac Imaging – State of the Art and Beyond” on November 15 at the MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf.

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Advance notice:

Focal Day Imaging and Interventional Procedures

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

09.00 bis 10.30 Uhr
Symposium Cardiology / Radiology: Acquisitions in cardiac imaging – state of the art and beyond
Chair: Prof. Dr. Joachim Lotz, Göttingen

Prof. Dr. Frank Weidemann, Unna

Prof. Dr. Joachim Lotz, Göttingen

Prof. Dr. Michael Markl, Chicago IL, USA


The MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE is an interdisciplinary advanced training course of the German Association for Internal Medicine (DGIM) and the Messe Düsseldorf according to the motto “Science Meets Medical Technology” which takes place from November 14 to 17, 2016 in Düsseldorf. It takes place concurrently with the world trade fair for medical technology MEDICA on Monday and Tuesday between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm. Due to the clear scheduling structure, visitors have flexibility in choosing between the different topics and sessions. Three events (sessions) and various courses on a focus topic are offered in parallel each day. The MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE was approved by the Medical Association of North Rhine. Following the conference at 3:30 pm, the participants have the opportunity to visit the MEDICA trade fair until 6:30 pm (courses have partly different times). The world`s largest trade fair offers the perfect addition to the conference with its innovative technological worlds. For further information on the conference program see

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