In recent years, medical technology has witnessed remarkable progress worldwide, with various diagnostic tools and methods being developed to improve patient care. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one such cutting-edge technique that has gained recognition worldwide for its effectiveness in diagnosing and monitoring heart conditions. This article sheds light on the current status of cardiac MRI in Nepal, its significance, challenges, and potential for transforming the field of cardiac care.
Cardiac MRI serves as a non-invasive and highly accurate tool for obtaining detailed images of the heart and its surrounding structures. This technique provides valuable information about the heart’s anatomy, function and pathology in a single setting, hence, enabling healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat various complicated cardiac conditions. It is a non-invasive diagnostic modality with no radiation involved. In Nepal, where cardiovascular diseases are rapidly increasing, the deployment of cardiac MRI can play a crucial role in early detection and management of cardiac conditions.
Although cardiac MRI is a vital tool in many developed countries, its availability and utilization in Nepal is still relatively limited. Currently, only a few well-equipped medical centers in major cities have the facilities and expertise to perform cardiac MRI examinations.
We started doing cardiac MRI at Shahid Gangalal National Heart Centre from October 2021 and in a short span of time, we have already performed around 940 cardiac MRIs diagnosing various spectrum of cardiovascular diseases including the viability study of coronary territories, hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, infiltrative cardiomyopathies, myocarditis, congenital heart diseases and cardiac masses amongst others. The cost of establishing and maintaining a cardiac MRI unit, along with the requirement for specialized training, however, still poses challenges to its widespread implementation across the country.
What are the challenges?
One of the significant obstacles to widespread adoption of cardiac MRI in Nepal is the scarcity of infrastructure and resources. It is imperative for the government and relevant authorities to invest in advanced medical technology, ensuring better access to cardiac MRI scanners throughout the country. Collaborations with international organizations, training programs, and partnerships with experts from countries with established cardiac MRI practices can help build local expertise in operating and interpreting these scans effectively.
One of the significant obstacles to widespread adoption of cardiac MRI in Nepal is the scarcity of infrastructure and resources
Also, the high cost associated with cardiac MRI examinations needs to be addressed. The government should formulate policies and initiatives to make the procedure more affordable and accessible, thereby reaching a larger population in need. Additionally, establishing research collaborations between academic institutions and healthcare centers can facilitate the development of cost-effective cardiac MRI protocols tailored to the specific needs of the Nepali population.
Despite this, the introduction of cardiac MRI in Nepal has been able to revolutionize cardiac care in the country. By providing detailed and accurate information about cardiac function, structure, and blood flow, cardiac MRI can aid in early detection and diagnosis of heart diseases. This, in turn, can enable timely interventions, individualized treatment plans, and improved patient outcomes. Moreover, advanced imaging techniques like cardiac MRI can contribute to the overall growth of medical research in Nepal, fostering collaborations and attracting specialists and researchers to contribute their expertise to the country’s healthcare system.
To conclude, Cardiac MRI represents a significant advancement in the field of cardiac care, offering precise and non-invasive diagnostic capabilities. Despite its limited availability in Nepal, the implementation of cardiac MRI holds immense potential for improving the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. By addressing challenges relating to infrastructure, training, and affordability, the integration of cardiac MRI into the healthcare system can contribute to better patient outcomes and support the overall growth of cardiac care in Nepal.
Dr Nirmal Prasad Neupane is Radiologist at Shahid Gangalal National Heart Centre, Kathmandu.