With the support of the 2017 Amsterdam Movement Sciences Innovation Grant for Infrastructure, Harald Thune Jørstad (Dept. of Cardiology, AMC) and Ot Bakermans (Dept. of Radiology and Nuclear Medcicine, AMC) were able to purchase an MR-compatible bicycle ergometer. The ergometer, that is designed to be used within the strong magnetic field of the MR scanner, allows the researchers to conduct cardiac MRI during physical exercise.
Currently, the researchers are optimizing the exercise and imaging protocol, and in parallel, they are working on an image processing pipeline that deals with the distortion of the images due to movement of the legs and increased respiratory rates during exercise. This is an important step, as standard cardiac MRI is performed at rest, when subjects lie still inside the scanner, and even hold their breath to avoid movement distortions in the images.
After processing the exercise images, it will enable the researchers to accurately quantify volumes of both the left and right ventricles, as well as the cardiac output. These measurements will give a unique insight in the exercise (patho-)physiology of the heart. Measurements to collect reference data in healthy volunteers are underway, after which athletes will be invited for exercise cardiac MRI exams. After optimization of the scanning protocols, the opportunity exists to further develop the exercise MRI for use in research within Amsterdam Movement Sciences.