Cardiac structure, function and flow are most commonly studied by ultrasound, X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. However, cardiovascular MRI is hitherto limited to electrocardiogram (ECG)-synchronized acquisitions and therefore often results in compromised quality for patients with arrhythmias or inabilities to comply with requested protocols-especially with breath-holding. Recent advances in the development of novel real-time MRI techniques now offer dynamic imaging of the heart and major vessels with high spatial and temporal resolution, so that examinations may be performed without the need for ECG synchronization and during free breathing. This article provides an overview of technical achievements, physiological validations, preliminary patient studies and translational aspects for a future clinical scenario of cardiovascular MRI in real time.
Keywords: Real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); arrhythmias; blood flow; cardiac function; cardiovascular imaging.