An introduction to the CVMR

A poster overview of the value of MRI for cardiovascular disease analysis:

CoronaryMRI.pdf  (7179 Ko)


Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.
- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -- Hungarian/US biochemist (1893-1986)

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Adapted from Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)


The cardiovascular magnetic resonance center (CVMR) of the Center for Biomedical Imaging (CIBM) was established in 2010 and is dedicated to the technical development and clinical evaluation of novel non-invasive cardiovascular magnetic resonance methodology. Located at the University Hospital of the Canton de Vaud (CHUV) in the department of radiology, a direct interdisciplinary collaboration between basic scientists and clinician researchers critically enables scientific discovery and translation that is directed towards improved prevention, diagnosis and therapy of cardiovascular disease. Therefore strong collaborative links with the CRMC directed by Prof. Jürg Schwitter and the service of nuclear medicine directed by Prof. John Prior have been established. The CVMR center is also committed to the education and training of researchers and clinicians in the field.

Research Plan

The research effort of the CVMR center addresses a significant human health concern. It is focused on the development and translational application of novel non-invasive cardiovascular MRI methodology in strong collaboration with clinicians. Dissemination of such methodology, teaching and application in international multicenter settings is one of the declared aims of the Lausanne activity.


Despite advances in prevention, risk assessment and treatment, coronary artery disease (CAD) remains the leading cause of death in the industrialized nations. The majority of deaths from CAD is related to acute coronary syndromes (ACS) or sudden death and often occurs in patients with low to intermediate risk. In many, the acute event even represents the first manifestation of CAD. Plaque rupture and subsequent thrombosis is the most frequent cause of ACS. Plaques, which rupture, and lead to luminal thrombosis, are often referred to as “vulnerable” plaques. Today’s clinical assessment of CAD still remains focused on the severity of luminal narrowing and flow restriction in coronary arteries or functional indices of cardiac ischemia, but evidence is mounting that the interventional treatment of coronary stenoses does not improve prognosis. Identification of early atherosclerosis and the so-called vulnerable plaques is therefore an increasing clinical need. This necessitates new imaging techniques that provide information not only on vascular anatomy but increasingly on vascular function, plaque composition and biological processes associated with atherosclerosis progression and regression.

MRI in Atherosclerosis Research

MRI is a non-invasive tool that addresses the above-described need without x-ray exposure. Therefore, this technology is uniquely positioned for new scientific discoveries in atherosclerosis research. Repeated studies before and after an intervention can easily be performed to characterize plaque progression and regression. Low-risk cohorts without known disease or with sub-clinical disease, in whom invasive procedures or x-ray exposure cannot be ethically justified, can easily be investigated with MRI. This will be most critical for an improved understanding of early atherosclerosis or atherosclerosis progression in diabetic patients for example. This is perfectly in line with a general trend that is shifting to early and subclinical atherosclerosis research. A methodology that simultaneously enables the non-invasive assessment of early atherosclerosis, the characterization of plaque composition, and the visualization of luminal narrowings would represent a major step forward in diagnostic cardiology. Therefore, the main research focus is dedicated to high-resolution MRI of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. The 3 main sub-categories are anatomical imaging, molecular imaging, and imaging of vascular function.

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CIBM-CVMR - CHUV BH 8.84 - Rue du Bugnon 46 - CH-1011 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 314 75 35
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