Edinburgh Imaging

15 Mar 19. BHF MEMRI study

A research study by the University of Edinburgh is being carried out at the Edinburgh Imaging Facility QMRI, to determine whether a new contrast dye can improve the existing MRI scanning technique given to patients who are suffering from cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.

Project title: Manganese-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MEMRI): Applications in Cardiomyopathy
Funded: The British Heart Foundation
Prof David Newby, University of Edinburgh

Dr Nick SpathUniversity of Edinburgh



Cardiovascular disease accounts for over a quarter of all mortality in the UK, therefore accurate assessment is of utmost importance in the diagnosis, risk stratification, treatment, and intervention of many types of cardiac disease, including cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy includes multiple groups of patients;

  • those who are suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease with abnormal thickening of the heart muscle),
  • those who are suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease where the heart becomes stretched and enlarged) or
  • those who are suffering from ischaemic cardiomyopathy (heart disease where the heart is weakened due to heart attacks).

This study has been organised by Prof. David Newby, Dr Scott Semple and Dr Nick Spath and sponsored by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian. The study is being funded by the British Heart Foundation as part of the PhD being undertaken by Dr Nick Spath

Recruitment for the study commenced in May 2017, and we have now scanned over 56% of our participants, by successfully completing over 100 scans for the study (the target is 90 participants, each undergoing multiple scans, totalling 240 scans by the end of the study).


The existing procedure within the NHS of a patient showing signs of cardiomyopathy, is to conduct a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart  together with a contrast dye, injected into the patient’s vein during the scan, enabling assessment of the heart’s structure and function, as well as the contrast ‘dye’ helping to highlight abnormal areas within the heart (DE-MRI). 

However, this has its limitations, therefore we are currently researching a new contrast dye, containing manganese (MEMRI) which works differently to current dyes. We believe it will provide unique insight into how the heart muscle functions differently in disease and therefore has the potential to advance the detail & accuracy of current assessments in cardiomyopathy, as well as offering a novel imaging marker of heart failure.

The research team, hope that all the recruitment and scanning will be complete with findings published by Autumn 2019.

Patients are being scanned at the Edinburgh Imaging Facility QMRI, using the Siemens Magnetom Skyrafit MR scanner.


So far this study using manganese-enhanced MRI of the heart is producing exciting results, with far-reaching potential. If successful, we hope it may offer improved diagnosis of heart conditions, as well as ability to identify the best treatments for patients after a heart attack.  


Projects details
  • Grant amount: £210,408
  • Start date: 01 May 2017
  • Duration: 3 years
  • No. of patients to be scanned: 90
  • Reference: BHF Clinical Research Training Fellowship no. FS/17/19/32641 - Nicholas Spath