Background: Novel cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) techniques and
imaging biomarkers are often validated in small animal models or
empirically in patients. Direct translation of small animal CMR
protocols to humans is rarely possible, while validation in humans is
often difficult, slow and occasionally not possible due to ethical
considerations. The aim of this study is to overcome these limitations
by introducing an MR-compatible, free beating, blood-perfused, isolated
pig heart model for the development of novel CMR methodology.
Methods: 6 hearts were perfused outside of the MR environment to
establish preparation stability. Coronary perfusion pressure (CPP),
coronary blood flow (CBF), left ventricular pressure (LVP), arterial
blood gas and electrolyte composition were monitored over 4 hours.
Further hearts were perfused within 3T (n = 3) and 1.5T (n = 3) clinical
MR scanners, and characterised using functional (CINE), perfusion and
late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) imaging. Perfusion imaging was
performed globally and selectively for the right (RCA) and left coronary
artery (LCA). In one heart the RCA perfusion territory was determined
and compared to infarct size after coronary occlusion.
Results: All physiological parameters measured remained stable and
within normal ranges. The model proved amenable to CMR at both field
strengths using typical clinical acquisitions. There was good agreement
between the RCA perfusion territory measured by selective first pass
perfusion and LGE after coronary occlusion (37% versus 36% of the LV
Conclusions: This flexible model allows imaging of cardiac function in a
controllable, beating, human-sized heart using clinical MR systems. It
should aid further development, validation and clinical translation of
novel CMR methodologies, and imaging sequences.
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