Interest in clinical cardiovascular imaging has skyrocketed over the past quarter
century. Dozens of new imaging modalities have arisen from advances in the physical
sciences, electrical engineering, information technology, chemical synthesis,
and in pharmacology. Mostly driven by newly developed technology, these
advances have been of great benefi t to clinical cardiology. This is especially true in
the fi eld of structural imaging of the heart and great vessels. This book will educate
the reader about a new frontier: the molecular basis of functional imaging of
the cardiovascular system.
The reader will appreciate the enormous progress made in functional imaging
of a complex biological system. Indeed, we are now able to visualize such dynamic
processes as changes in gene expression, changes in immune response, changes
in intermediary metabolism of energy-providing substrates, and changes in programmed
cell death and programmed cell survival—to name just a few examples.
Will the knowledge collected and presented in this book make the reader a
better, more effective clinical decision maker? The editors believe the answer is a
clear “yes.” For example, the use of positron emitting tracers combined with
computed tomography has already signifi cantly improved the diagnosis and
management of patients with ischemic heart disease. The use of ultrasound
contrast agents for left ventricular opacifi cation and myocardial perfusion has
revolutionized echocardiography. The use of magnetic resonance imaging defi nes
not only scar tissue, but also fi brosis. Add to this the impressive array of techniques,
including three-dimensional echocardiography, multi-slice computed tomography,
and multi-modality imaging. Also consider the new ways to detect stem cells in
dysfunctional or infarcted myocardium and infl ammatory processes in the arterial
wall. The opportunities for the precise diagnosis and management of cardiovascular
diseases seem unlimited.
With all this enthusiasm, a word of caution is in order: in spite of enormous
progress, there is still a paucity of research on the reproducibility of imaging, quality
assessment, and the incremental benefi ts of imaging in medical decision making.
A reasonable starting point is therefore a critical review of the molecular basis for
contemporary cardiovascular imaging. Understanding the molecular principles of
specifi c imaging techniques also provides an appreciation of the strengths and
limitations of each new technique. Cardiovascular Molecular Imaging meets the needs
of clinicians and translational scientists working at the very forefront of an exciting,
rapidly growing fi eld of biomedical research. Right now there is still a striking
disconnect between a high demand and a low level of evidence for cardiovascular
imaging. The book is a step in the right direction to eliminate this disconnect.
The editors are especially grateful to Vanessa Sanchez and Alyssa Fried as
well as the entire publishing staff at Informa Healthcare for their forbearance.