We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Sharon Chih is the recipient of the 2018 Dr. Robert Roberts Award for Research Excellence.
Dr. Chih is recognized with this prestigious award for a high impact paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. This high impact study looked at the usefulness of a non-invasive imaging technique, known as Positron Emission Tomography, in assessing cardiac allograft vasculopathy, a leading cause of death after a heart transplant.
Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is a condition that involves narrowing of large and small vessels of the heart following a transplant. Early diagnosis of this condition is limited by several factors, including the lack of clinical symptoms as well as insensitivity of invasive coronary angiography, an X-ray test of choice at most cardiac transplant centres, to screen for CAV.
In this study, Dr. Chih and her team looked at the usefulness of a non-invasive, innovative imaging technique known as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with Rubidium-82, to assess CAV. Rubidium PET has a significantly lower radiation dose of 1-3 mSv units (compared to 5-8 mSV units from standard coronary angiography). The study correlates this PET methodology to invasive coronary angiography, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), and intracoronary flow. It is the largest prospective series to date correlating these different methodologies.
The results show that reduced myocardial blood flow and increased coronary resistance, as measured by PET, indicates a high likelihood of CAV. These patients therefore will subsequently be considered for invasive coronary angiography and IVUS to confirm the diagnosis of CAV. Patients with high myocardial flow and low coronary resistance therefore would not be unnecessarily subjected to IVUS and invasive, higher radiation dose of X-ray coronary angiography. Dr. Chih and her team have opened a new, innovative avenue for the follow-up of heart transplant patients.