Imaging Research Centre for cardiac intervention: A Canadian first at Sunnybrook

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Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre recently officially became home to a state-of-the-art, imaging research centre for cardiac intervention that is bringing together the latest imaging technology with the best experts in cardiac care and research.

Uniquely designed to combine a number of medical imaging tools such as x-ray, ultrasound and magnetic resonance (MRI), the Imaging Research Centre for Cardiac Intervention (IRCCI) will put Toronto on the map as a leading centre for cardiac imaging. The IRCCI will act as a core resource for University of Toronto teaching hospitals including Sunnybrook, University Health Network and St. Michael’s Hospital.

“Heart disease remains the number-one killer of Canadians, and this research centre will help change that trend by developing breakthrough technologies for improving patient care,” said Leo Steven, Sunnybrook president and CEO. “Sunnybrook is proud to be host to such a vitally important centre.”

Combining the various imaging tools will provide cardiac specialists and researchers with updated information to guide their decisions for optimal approaches and methods for cardiac investigation. This will improve the early detection and treatment of heart disease and the outcomes of interventional procedures for patients, therefore improving their quality of life.

“Sunnybrook Research Institute’s heart and circulation faculty are known as some of the best in the world for their pioneering work,” says Dr. Michael Julius, vice president of Research at Sunnybrook. “The IRCCI brings research and clinical teams even more closely together as they work towards their shared aim of developing and testing new diagnostics and treatmentsÑand speeding those into the clinic, for the benefit of patients that need it most.”

One of the many novel features of the Centre is the imaging suite where patients involved in clinical trials will be examined with multiple imaging techniques before, during, and after therapy without having to move to distant locations throughout the hospital. Essentially, the patient is literally moved through a conveyor-belt of imaging technology.

The next stage of development at the Centre is the new K. Michael Kelly Multimedia Teaching Room, where specialists will display the combination of image fusion and procedures to others in the city, across Canada and throughout the world. TV monitors can broadcast interventional cardiac procedures to another room within the Centre, as well as to other centres, and can be brought up in individual displays so cardiac specialists can participate and talk to each other during a procedure. The imaging media room has over 30 sources of video, including all the Cath Lab and MRI images to reference.

“This allows for a hands-on interactive way of learning as we do new imaging-guided procedures,” says Dr. Alexander Dick, interventional cardiologist at Sunnybrook. “We see this as a great opportunity to teach and move things forward, not just at Sunnybrook, but around the world.”

There are a number of organizations and individuals who have contributed to the development of the IRCCI including the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT), GE Healthcare, Dr. Seymour Schulich, Philips Medical, Novadaq Technologies, and BioSense Webster.

There are 15 researchers from three participating hospitals involved in the IRCCI, many of whom are members of the Ontario Consortium for Cardiac Imaging, a province-wide project funded by the Ontario government and investment from the private sector that is dedicated to the establishment of a world-leading centre in cardiac imaging information for use in patient management.