SPINCAS® - Nuclear Spin Cardiac System MRI Phantom

In order to give prospective physicians the opportunity to practice difficult surgical and treatment techniques in advance, animal models can be used. For example, when practicing a surgical technique on an eye, an eye may be used by a cow or a pig for exercise. Since, on the one hand, the animal organs are anatomically partly different from the corresponding human organs, and on the other hand, not all clinical pictures of humans occur in the animal model, this method can not always be used. As a result, surgeons often learn complicated intervention techniques today under the guidance of their more experienced colleagues for operations directly on the patient.

Instead of relying on animal models in educating doctors, functional phantoms can also be used as medical training systems. These training systems include a functional and / or structural replication of body parts or organs, such as a heart or an eye, for illustrative and practical purposes. They allow a physician to gain manual dexterity to perform an intervention without jeopardizing the well-being of a living patient. Such training systems are particularly advantageous in complicated interventional or minimally invasive procedures and can also be used multiple times.

The heart as the central organ of the human body plays a special role in health therapy. There are numerous examination and operation measures, which should investigate or restore the functionality of the vital muscle. For example, heart attack is one of the most well-known and widespread heart diseases and is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world. The heart and its diseases have been the focus of medical treatment for decades.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, also referred to as magnetic resonance tomography) is one of the most modern medical imaging methods today. The rapid development in recent years with regard to the performance of magnetic resonance imaging (MR tomography), MRI coils and MRI sequences has led to Nowadays it is also possible to perform MRI recordings in real time, so-called "real-time" (rt) MRT recordings, which also have a high temporal and spatial resolution. This technology can be used to obtain an optimal representation of cardiac structures. By means of the so-called cardiac MRI, both the anatomy and the function of the heart muscle can be examined and, for example, various volumetric parameters can be determined. In addition, cardiac MRI allows non-invasive diagnosis of heart valve defects.

In the field of cardiology, rt MRI scans of the heart not only enable cardiac action or cardiac function to be recorded more accurately and accurately, but also represent the prerequisite for the beginning of a completely new MRI epoch - "interventional cardiac MRI". , With the help of the new rt MRI sequences and the simultaneous development of MR safe or conditionally MR safe examination materials (eg access ports, guide wires, guide catheters, ablation catheters, bioptomes, etc.), invasive diagnostic examinations (eg right ventricular catheter examinations) as well as invasive diagnostics can be performed for the first time Interventional interventions (eg, atrial fibrillation ablations) can be performed by means of cardiac MRI imaging controlled in the MRI room. Since interventional cardiac MRI is still at an early stage of development, there is plenty of room for further development and innovation here. The potential of this method is reflected not least in the fact that numerous companies are already working on the development and approval of MRI-compatible examination and treatment objects.

Following this development, relatively simple MRI-capable phantoms of the heart are already available, which, however, either insufficiently map the complex cardiac anatomy and / or do not permit simulation of a truly beating heart with simultaneous upward and downward movement corresponding to the diaphragmatic movement. However, it is precisely this systolic or diastolic contraction movement as well as the breath-dependent vertical movement of the heart which presents the particular challenge for imaging the heart and planning or training future interventional MRI procedures.

 The present invention provides an at least MR conditional cardiac phantom, that is, a cardiac replica that can be used in an MRI environment and mapped by MRI, and thus is suitable for the development and testing of interventional MRI procedures in cardiology. The MRI-enabled cardiac phantom presented here achieves this property in that it is essentially and preferably made exclusively from non-ferromagnetic materials. In particular, the MRI-enabled cardiac phantom may be free of the ferromagnetic metals iron, nickel and cobalt. The structure of the cardiac phantom is made of MRI-suitable materials which are suitable both for the functional / anatomical simulation of the respective cardiovascular structure and also have MRI signal properties which correspond to the corresponding in vivo structures in humans. 


The MRI-enabled cardiac phantom according to the invention has a structure comprising four check valves and two flexible chambers, the former corresponding to the heart valves and the latter to the left and right ventricles. Thus, the structure of the heart phantom according to the invention reflects the fundamental anatomical structure of the heart and allows the simulation of a pulsatile blood flow through its atria, heart valves and chambers. The atria are preferably separated from the chambers by biological heart valves. By means of a pressure impulse by gas, for example air, or liquid, which act on the flexible chambers, an artificial blood flow can be generated by compressing the artificial ventricles from the outside, so that an anatomically correct blood flow through the built-in heart valves in the form of check valves on the heart phantom described here. Furthermore, a pneumatic device can be provided for simulating the heartbeat and the diaphragmatic breathing. The latter can be simulated by a relative movement of the cardiac phantom in a torso-imaging base body, for example by means of a pneumatically operating device. Depending on the design, two larger and two smaller heart valves may be used as check valves in the cardiac phantom, with the larger heart valves corresponding to the mitral and tricuspid valves and the smaller heart valves to the aortic and pulmonary valves. In an exemplary embodiment, the larger heart valves may have a diameter of 25 mm, the smaller heart valves a diameter of 19 mm.

The MRI-enabled cardiac phantom described here is particularly suitable for the training of cardiologists. With the cardio MRI phantom described here, both new interventional MRI techniques and new MRI marials can be safely tested and tested. In particular, this is the strong modular structure of advantage, which allows, for example, a quick installation and removal of a level from a new material to be tested. Likewise, parts of the heart phantom to be replaced due to wear can simply be exchanged. The respective interventional MRI procedure can be tested on such a cardio MRT phantom without the use of subjects and animals and without time limitation, and optimized to such an extent that there is practically no further obstacle to the subsequent safe implementation on the patient. Exemplary applications may include withdrawals of endomyocardial biopsies, right heart catheterizations, placement of aortic stents or new heart valves, VF flutter ablations (u.v.a.m.).


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