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Circ Res. 2001 Feb 16;88(3):340-6.

Fast high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates fractality of myocardial perfusion in microscopic dimensions.

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  • 1Medizinische Universitätsklinik, Universität Würzburg, Germany.


The fractal nature of heterogeneity of myocardial blood flow and its implications for the healthy and diseased heart is not yet understood. The main hindrance for investigation of blood flow heterogeneity and its role in physiology and pathophysiology is that conventional methods for determination of myocardial perfusion have severe limitations concerning temporal and spatial resolution and invasiveness. In isolated rat hearts, we developed a nuclear magnetic resonance technique that does not depend on contrast agents and in which the apparent longitudinal relaxation time is made perfusion sensitive by selective preparation of the imaging slice. This perfusion-sensitive relaxation time is determined within 40 seconds as a map with a high spatial in-plane resolution of 140x140 microm(2) and a thickness of 1.5 mm. Perfusion imaging was validated with the established microsphere technique. Additionally, the congruence between perfusion-sensitive T:(1) maps and first-pass perfusion imaging was demonstrated. As an application of high-resolution perfusion imaging, fractal analysis of the spatial distribution of perfusion was performed. We were able to demonstrate that the fractality of this distribution exists even in microscopic dimensions. Vasodilation by nitroglycerin modulated the fractal pattern of perfusion, and the decrease of the fractal dimension indicated a shift toward homogeneity. This implies that parameters of the fractal distribution depend on the microvascular tone rather than on anatomic preformations; ie, fractality is a functional characteristic of perfusion.

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