Diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization is routinely used in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease. There are well-established concerns regarding the risk of radiation exposure to patients and staff, particularly in children given the cumulative effects of repeat exposure. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers the advantage of being able to provide better soft tissue visualization, tissue characterization, and quantification of ventricular volumes and vascular flow. Initial work using MRI catheterization employed fusion of x-ray and MRI techniques, with x-ray fluoroscopy to guide catheter placement and subsequent MRI assessment for anatomical and hemodynamic assessment. Image overlay of 3D previously acquired MRI datasets with live fluoroscopic imaging has also been used to guide catheter procedures.
Hybrid x-ray and MRI-guided catheterization paved the way for clinical application and validation of this technique in the assessment of pulmonary vascular resistance and pharmacological stress studies. Purely MRI-guided catheterization also proved possible with passive catheter tracking. First-in-man MRI-guided cardiac catheter interventions were possible due to the development of MRI-compatible guidewires, but halted due to guidewire limitations.
More recent developments in passive and active catheter tracking have led to improved visualization of catheters for MRI-guided catheterization. Improvements in hardware and software have also increased image quality and scanning times with better interactive tools for the operator in the MRI catheter suite to navigate through the anatomy as required in real time. This has expanded to MRI-guided electrophysiology studies and radiofrequency ablation in humans. Animal studies show promise for the utility of MRI-guided interventional catheterization. Ongoing investment and development of MRI-compatible guidewires will pave the way for MRI-guided diagnostic and interventional catheterization coming into the mainstream.
*Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, King's College London
†Evelina London Children's Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
Address correspondence to Reza Razavi, MBBS, MD, Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, King's College London, Rayne Institute, 4th Floor Lambeth Wing, St Thomas's Hospital, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7EH, UK (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors report no conflicts of interest.