Royal Philips and the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) have entered into a research collaboration to develop a new protocol that reduces the time for cardiac MRI procedures.

The new technique, dubbed Enhanced SENSE by Static Outer-volume Subtraction (ESSOS), is said to reduce the time for MRI from about an hour to few minutes.

ESSOS can be used with existing phased-array MRI scanners without any modification.

With shorter scan times, the technology enables increased patient access to precision diagnosis, improved patient comfort and reduced cost of care, said the company.

Philips-CNIC collaboration technical leader Javier Sánchez-González said: “In just over 20 seconds, all the information needed to know the shape and function of the heart has been acquired.

“And if you need to evaluate the degree of fibrosis after cardiac muscle death, another 20-second acquisition is all it takes, completing the cardiac study in less than a minute.”

The traditional MR cardiac examination requires patients to lie still inside the bore of the scanner for about one hour to get a precise measurement of the heart function.

According to CNIC researcher Sandra Gómez-Talavera, the study period of one hour prevents many patients from finishing the test, owing to the discomfort.

The new ESSOS technique exploits the fact that everything within the patient’s chest remains static during a breath-hold, except their beating heart.

It allows up to four times faster acquisition of a 3D image of the heart, resulting in a net acceleration factor of up to 32.

A clinical trial using the conventional and the new MR protocol showed superior agreement between heart function measurements made using each technique.

CNIC clinical research department director Borja Ibáñez said: “We have shown in a large group of patients that cardiac MR imaging using this new technology obtains the same parameters as the usual technique but reduces the time that a patient has to be inside the machine by more than 90%.”

Carlos III Institute of Health, through a FIS technological development project, has supported the research project with financing.

The project also received support from a Translational Research Grant from the Spanish Society of Cardiology, the European Research Council (ERC), and the Community of Madrid.