Interventional medical procedures gain increasing relevance in numerous medical areas as they are less invasive and thereby reduce the burden to the patient. The healthcare system benefits from more precise and quicker treatments with less complications and reduced costs. Visualization of the interventional medical devices is achieved by X-ray, MRI and ultrasound imaging. Most of the procedures today are carried out under X-ray imaging, i.e. fluoroscopy and computer tomography (CT).
MRI is the method of choice for imaging of soft tissue in the human body, which is invisible in X-ray fluoroscopy. Whereas CT enables soft tissue visualization, this suffers from the disadvantage of high radiation burden. Clinical feasibility of interventional MRI has already been shown for a number of procedures. Yet, implementation in clinical routine has been hampered by the lack of essential MR safe and visible medical devices, such as guidewires. Conventional medical devices usually are not appropriate for MRI-guided interventions due to metal parts contained therein, which cause electric conductivity and heating during MRI.
The benefits of MRI-guided interventional procedures over X-ray imaging are:
- No iodine contrast agents
- Excellent soft tissue visualization
- Continuous visualization throughout the entire interventional procedure
- Morphological data, functional and metabolic data (e.g., vitality, perfusion, flow) obtainable in one MR image
Commercial availability of MR safe guidewires opens up a broad spectrum of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions such as:
- Cardiologic interventions (e.g. hemodynamic measurement, endomyocardial biopsy, ablation, coronary interventions)
- Detection and treatment of lesions in blood vessels (angiography, angioplasty)
- Aortic and venous stenting
- Interventional oncology (e.g. chemotherapy, tumor ablation, brachytherapy, etc.)
- Stroke treatment
- Treatment of sensitive patients (e.g. renal insufficiency, or iodine contrast agent intolerance)
- Pediatric cardiologic and radiologic procedures
- Any complex and lengthy intervention further favors application of radiation-free imaging techniques.