Coronary heart disease has traditionally been assessed through coronary angiography and SPECT scanning, both of which employ ionizing radiation to produce diagnostic images.
A recent British Heart Foundation study which was published online in the Lancet has
shown that MRI may also be a reliable and in some respects better alternative in assessing chronic heart disease.
The five year study led by Leeds researchers involved 752 patients. The results have shown that not only is MRI a consistent and reliable tool for detecting CHD, it was also better than SPECT at diagnosing CHD and at ruling out heart disease in patients who did not have the condition. MRI scanning has the additional advantage of not exposing the patient to radiation.
In a press release the University of Leeds noted that this is "the first time that MRI has been compared head-to-head against the 'gold standard' tests for CHD in such a large group of patients".