The pediatric Interventional Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (ICMR) program, developed in partnership with Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to improving the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects in children. The program team will make extensive use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to enhance the speed and precision of cardiac evaluation, while reducing the need for radiation or invasive surgical procedures.
The centerpiece of the program is the new ICMR suite at CNMC, which features a powerful 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner specifically configured for cardiac diagnosis, evaluation, and intervention of children and newborns. The suite includes an adjoining catheterization lab with X-ray machine, allowing for MRI and catheterization to be performed on the same day, reducing sedation time and the number of procedures needed.
The Pediatric ICMR program will focus on four primary research areas:
1. Diagnostic MRI: Improve the speed and resolution of cardiac MRI
Benefits: Will reduce the need for sedation, broadening use of radiation-free MRI in children; will improve MRI as tool for fetal imaging
2. Cath-to-MRI protocols: Provide initial therapy in the catheterization lab, then transfer patient to adjoining MRI
Benefits: Complicated procedure can be done in one day; patient subjected to shorter hospitalization and decreased anesthesia
3. X-Ray fused with MRI: Overlay X-ray images and real-time MRI images
Benefits: Will help guidance of catheters during MRI procedures, reducing time and anesthesia required; minimal radiation exposure
4. Wholly MRI-Guided Procedures: Develop and optimize magnet-safe tools for use in MRI to replace the need for X-ray imaging to guide catheterizations or other procedures
Benefits: No radiation exposure for the patient; better quality images
The Pediatric ICMR program brings together researchers, clinicians, engineers, and physicists from both NHLBI and CNMC. As part of the program, clinical fellows from CNMC have the opportunity to come to the NIH campus and learn from NHLBI researchers, who have strong expertise in various cardiac imaging technologies.