Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may soon replace catheterism, a traumatic
and invasive method for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, whereby
a catheter is inserted into the arteries, all the way up to the heart,
to measure the blood pressure. Thanks to MRI, the same information
will soon be obtained in a non invasive manner. As yet, MRI cannot
measure actual pressure, only its variations in space and time. This
method has been successfully tested on patients, and the MRI data
corroborated results obtained through catheterism.
Images of blood pressure gradients will make it possible not only
to visualize the physiology of blood circulation, but also cardiac
valve or artery diseases. Time variations of blood pressure is also
an indication of the heart's ability to pump out the blood it contains.
The Research Unit on Medical Magnetic Resonance is currently carrying
out comparative studies of catheterism and MRI, which could also be
successfully applied to measure pulmonary hypertension, a disease
traditionally monitored through frequent catheterisms.
Methodological research is under way to find a way of directly measuring
blood pressure since knowing the time and space variations in different
points throughout the cardiovascular system makes it possible to calculate
the pressure in each point at each moment, on the basis of the pressure
observed at one point in space and time.