Multidimensional and Multiparametric Quantitative Cardiac MRI from Continuous Free-Breathing Acquisition

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Imaging & Biomedical Engineering


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading single cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world, causing over 65.000 deaths every year in England. Improving the treatment and outcome of cardiovascular disease is one of the main priorities of the National Health Service (NHS) and a reduction of 25% in mortality associated to cardiovascular disease by the year 2025 is one of the major challenges proposed by the United Nations. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a very promising non-invasive tool for early risk assessment, guidance of therapy and treatment monitoring of CVD. MRI has been shown to provide exquisite depiction of cardiac anatomy and is considered the gold standard to assess ventricular volumes and function. More recently, quantitative mapping of magnetic relaxation properties (known as e.g. T1 and T2 relaxation times) have been developed to standardise the quantitative measurement of myocardial tissue properties, enabling non-invasive characterisation and differentiation of diseased and healthy tissue. Clinical research studies have shown the potential of parametric mapping techniques for quantification of diffuse myocardial fibrosis (T1 map) and the assessment of myocardial oedema and inflammation (T2 map). Thus, MR parameter mapping offer the promise of early disease detection and monitoring over time or in response to therapy, changing the MR paradigm from visualisation to quantification.

The limitation of the current MRI scheme is that all these images (e.g. cardiac anatomy, function, T1 map and T2 map) are acquired sequentially, usually with different resolution, different geometric orientations and at different breath-hold positions. This scheme requires patient cooperation as acquisitions are usually performed under multiple breath holds, requires experienced radiographers to plan and perform the different acquisitions, and results in long scan times. Moreover patients are usually unable to hold their breath at the same respiratory position. Thus images acquired at different breath-holds cannot be directly fused thereby affecting diagnosis, accuracy and reproducibility of cardiac MRI.

The method proposed in this project will overcome these problems by allowing the simultaneous acquisition of MR images with multiple parameters (e.g. cardiac anatomy, function, T1 map and T2 map), throughout the whole cardiac and respiratory cycles, from a single free-breathing acquisition. Thus providing anatomic and functional information simultaneously with quantitative information of multiple tissue parameters for an efficient (single scan, shorter and predictable scan time), accurate, simplified (less planning required and more comfortable for the patients) and comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular disease.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of this research will be patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD), who will benefit from an efficient, accurate and more comfortable non-invasive diagnostic test. Secondary beneficiaries will be clinicians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of CVD. Complementary and co-registered information provided by both qualitative and quantitative cardiac MR images will enable more reliable diagnosis. In the long term this project will also help reducing NHS healthcare costs by a) reducing planning and scan times, therefore decreasing the exam cost per patient; and b) improving hospital discharge rates by providing more accurate diagnosis. Moreover the technology developed in this project may also have an impact on other applications such as abdominal and liver imaging where accurate quantification and respiratory motion are known major challenges. Through commercialisation, the research will be of benefit to the imaging manufacturers and subsequently to the healthcare system by improving patient management through improved treatment outcome and reduced healthcare costs on a national and international level.

Our goal is to maximise the impact of our work through dissemination of our ideas and results to the academic and clinical communities and potential industrial partners. The scientific methodology results from this research will be output as research publications in high-impact journals in the field of medical imaging. Results of the proposed research will be also presented to the Cardiovascular Patient and Public Involvement group at St Thomas' Hospital as well as to the general public in engagement activities such as Pint of Science and Healthcare Science Week. Throughout the project we will also post blogs about our latest results on the Division's blog ( to reach a larger community and to make our research results more accessible to a larger community. A large amount of phantom and in-vivo data will be generated during the lifetime of the grant. After the studies are published in scientific journals, and after they are patented if patenting is a viable option, this data will be made publicly available for research use. Moreover the data and reconstruction codes generated during the lifetime of the grant will be used in different teaching, and networking activities. At the completion of this project we plan to work closely together with industrial partners to transfer the developed methodology into their product software to allow wide spread clinical use of this research.


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Description Myocardial T1 mapping has been recognized as one of the most valuable quantitative mapping techniques to support diagnostic, therapeutic and prognostic decision making in ischemic and non-ischemic cardiomyopathies. However current acquisitions cannot cover the whole heart (since scans need to be performed under a breath hold) and may missed regions with disease. We have developed a free-running 3D myocardial T1 mapping technique with whole heart coverage and high isotropic spatial resolution. Future studies will investigate the clinical value of the proposed technique.
Exploitation Route This technique could be used by clinicians to improve diagnosis of several cardiovascular diseases.
Sectors Healthcare

Description EPSRC-KCL IAA Advancing Impact Award Scheme
Amount £60,701 (GBP)
Organisation King's College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 11/2019
Description SCMR 2019 Travel Award (3 people)
Amount € 1,500 (EUR)
Organisation Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United States
Start 02/2019 
End 02/2019
Title Low-rank Motion Corrected Reconstruction 
Description Reconstruction framework for low rank motion corrected MRI reconstructions (i.e., combination of motion compensation, global low rank and additional regularizers (e.g. PROST)) using ADMM-based solvers. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This method has enabled acceleration of several cardiac MRI methods and is being used by several members of the group and collaborators within and outside KCL 
Description PSMR Training School 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This 2 day workshop focused on teaching concepts and methods for PET/MRI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019