Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and assessment of treatment is only possible with reliable imaging methods. Due to low costs and its applicability to all clinical situations, ultrasound imaging is the ideal imaging method. It is the least invasive imaging method and has enabled many discoveries for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. With support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation, we have been able to establish a unique facility in ABACUS at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute to perform clinical and research cardiovascular ultrasound and perform projects which involve new ultrasound imaging technologies to address technical limitations of cardiovascular ultrasound imaging.
We have an interest in ultrasound contrast agents as contrast echocardiography can be used instead of other more expensive tests and in particular those test which expose patients to radiation. Our group continues to improve echocardiographic techniques and use this technology in order to evaluate new ultrasound tools for assessment of cardiovascular disease.
3D ultrasound has become a main research area of our group. During the last 2 years we were one of the first to introduce and validate 3D imaging of the carotid (neck) arteries and for the first time we have a simple and fast method to measure and monitor arteriosclerotic lesions. With 3D imaging of heart and vessels there will be another improvement in accuracy, but more importantly there is the potential for a major reduction in the scanning and processing times using advanced computer technology. This will give more patients access to high end diagnostic imaging. The use of 3D imaging in conjunction with intelligent computing of ultrasound recordings is the future of imaging.
We are aware of cost implications of new technology for medical care and have initiated a study for “Assessment of Patients with Suspected CAD: What is the best initial imaging strategy? Cardiac Computed Tomographic Angiography (CCTA) vs Stress Echocardiography (SE) vs SPECT “. The objective of IMAGE-CAD is to conduct a health economic analysis comparing the healthcare resource use and outcomes following randomization to one of the three different imaging strategies over one year in patients presenting with chest pain. This is a pilot study where after randomization, there are no further protocol-driven interventions, and patients will be observed over a one year follow-up period.
We provide echocardiographic monitoring to assess cardiac toxicity from cancer drugs. We have established a registry for patients undergoing cardiotoxicity monitoring. We analyze the data for quality control of the ejection fraction measurements as well as the utility of three-dimensional echocardiography. We have also developed a new tool for simplified strain and strain rate measurements which we plan to apply to the clinical reports of these patients.
We also provide echocardiography and Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) services for over 20 research studies that their protocols require cardiovascular ultrasound.