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State of the art cardiac imaging suite

Posted: 17 December 2019

Picture of a staff with scanner

Caring for high volumes of patients - closer to home

• The team has performed 4,632 cardiac CT procedures and 2,469 cardiac MRI procedures since the suite opened in 2017

• Nine consultants delivered 2,139 CT cardiac exams and 1,032 MRI cardiac scans to patients this year

• One of 40 trusts to have non-invasive ‘Heartflow’ technology - in the top UK five for volume

WHHT’s award-winning Cardiac imaging suite houses MRI and CT scanners under the same roof - offering patients a streamlined service with access to advanced cardiac imaging technology in a setting much closer to home.

For a district hospital it’s one of the biggest, high-volume services in the country, offering cardiac patients every facility bar heart surgery.

Since launching in 2017 the team has carried out over 4,500 cardiac CT procedures and over 2,400 cardiac MRI procedures. In the last year they have delivered over 2000 cardiac CTs and over 1000 cardiac MRIs.

The department has fifteen consultants, rising from one consultant trained in cardiac CT, to six over the last three years. They also have three radiology consultants. This means nine consultants are regularly perfuming cardiac CT - a very large number for any Trust.

They also offer a relatively new service scanning patients with pacemakers – patients who previously had to travel to Bart’s Hospital.

The team was runner up in the West Hertfordshire Medical Society President’s Prize for setting up Cardiac Imaging Centre in 2017. The two-year project to install the scanners at Watford General Hospital involved a major refurbishment in the radiology department, close collaboration between the radiology and cardiology services and the recruitment of new medical, radiographer, nursing and secretarial staff.

As part of the roll out the Trust has taken part in a multi-centre study in MRI research around improving patient care in valvular heart disease.

Heart Flow

WHHT’s Watford General Hospital Suite is one of only 40 trusts, the first within the M25, to have Heart Flow technology which was funded by NHS England through the Innovation and Technology Payment program.

Some 360 patients were referred for HeartFlow analysis between September 2018 and June 2019.

As per NICE guidelines, it has been integrated within the Trusts chest pain pathway and begins with a Cardiac CT Angiogram (CCTA). If the physician sees disease, the images are sent to HeartFlow, where AI algorithms, computational fluid dynamics and our trained analysts create the HeartFlow Analysis. This allows for a personalized, color-coded 3-D model of a patient’s coronary arteries to be created which provides functional information about each blockage.

The HeartFlow-guided strategy has helped identify patients who could benefit from coronary artery revascularization, and greatly reduced unnecessary invasive testing.
Our audit has identified very significant reductions in the number of patients going on for further tests which are now unnecessary with the use of this software.

Heart Flow Image: Normal Coronary Arteries:

Picture of normal arteries

Heart Flow Image: Patient with significant lesions within the coronary arteries:

Picture of arteries with signigicant lesions

Consultant Cardiologist Niall Keenan said: “The cardiac MRI and CT imaging suite at Watford General is an impressive, state-of-the art facility and a really important development for cardiology locally.

“Having this specialist equipment based in Watford means that patients don’t have to travel far for their scans. The major expansion in non-invasive cardiac imaging is a very important development for cardiology locally and enables cardiologists and radiologists to work together for the benefit of patients. We now have the very latest cardiac MRI and CT equipment so that our patients can benefit from the cutting edge of non-invasive cardiac assessment, avoiding invasive testing and getting great care!”


Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call 07900 228031.
  2. WeWest Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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