Molecular Imaging in Cardiovascular Research

Cardiology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the heart (specifically the human heart). The field includes medical diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology. Physicians who specialize in this field of medicine are called cardiologists. Physicians who specialize in cardiac surgery are called cardiac surgeons.

Molecular imaging has become a widely established procedure for diagnosing various disease states and monitoring the effects of therapeutic treatments in humans. In recent years, molecular imaging has also become a valuable preclinical research tool for studying the development and progression of disease in murine models, as well as the efficacy of potential therapeutic treatments. Dedicated, small animal imaging systems, which include MRI, PET, SPECT, Fluorescence/Bioluminescence, X-Ray CT, and Ultrasound, allow for the characterization of biological, molecular and cellular processes in vivo, with exceptional levels of resolution and sensitivity.

Molecular imaging procedures greatly facilitate the translation of preclinical studies to applications in the clinic. This is especially true of the Nuclear, CT and MRI modalities, which are currently in clinical use. The TriFoil Imaging Triumph II SPECT/CT, for example, is an ideal research tool for studying rat and mouse models of molecular cardiac function and coronary heart disease.  Standard, clinical measures of cardiac function and myocardial blood flow are easily obtained from reconstructed images and are highly reproducible. This ability to bridge the gap from in vitro to in vivo research with animal models of disease is unique in the molecular imaging industry and facilitates the translation of research from the bench to the clinic.