For almost two decades, cardiologists have searched for ways to see dangerous blood clots before they cause heart attacks.
Now, researchers at the School of Medicine report that they have designed nanoparticles that find clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology.
According to Gregory Lanza, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and a cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, these nanoparticles will take the guesswork out of deciding whether a person coming to the hospital with chest pain is actually having a heart attack.
“Rather than an overnight stay to make sure the patient is stable, this new technology could reveal the location of a blood clot in a matter of hours.”
“Every year, millions of people come to the emergency room with chest pain,” he says. “For some of them, we know it’s not their heart. But for most, we’re not sure. When there is any doubt, the patient must be admitted to the hospital and undergo tests to rule out or confirm a heart attack. Rather than an overnight stay to make sure the patient is stable, this new technology could reveal the location of a blood clot in a matter of hours.”
The nanoparticles are designed to be used with a new type of CT scanner that is capable of “seeing” metals in color. The new technology, called spectral CT, uses the full spectrum of the X-ray beam to differentiate objects that would be indistinguishable with a regular CT scanner that sees only black and white. More than simply confirming a heart attack, the new nanoparticles and spectral CT scanner can show a clot’s exact location.