Pulmonary Imaging Research

POLARIS is the University of Sheffield Pulmonary Magnetic Resonance Imaging Group located in Academic Radiology in the Department of Cardiovascular Science. We are focused on the physics and engineering methods for lung imaging with proton and hyperpolarised gas MRI and their clinical application.

Imaging Evaluation of Therapeutics: We have pioneered the use of hyperpolarized gases and proton lung MRI for the evaluation of regional lung response to therapeutics in Asthma, CF, COPD and PH. The techniques are free from ionizing radiation and highly sensitive to changes in lung function and as such are ideally suited for therapy assessment. Collaborations are in place with Novartis and GSK in this area and we have a track record in delivering commercial contract work with pharma using clinical lung imaging as outcome measures in trials.

Clinical Imaging Research in Respiratory Diseases: Sheffield performed the first clinical studies in the UK with both hyperpolarised 3He and 129Xe gas MRI. In collaboration with pulmonary clinicians from Sheffield and elsewhere in the UK (Manchester, Leicester) and Europe (Rotterdam, Dublin) we have demonstrated the clinical role of these MRI methods in different lung diseases.

MRI of Pulmonary Vascular Disease: In pulmonary vascular disease we have changed radiological practice with new imaging technology uptake for patient benefit, which is now part of the NHS funded clinical workup for over 25% of the UK population of adult patients with Pulmonary Hypertension. The Sheffield Pulmonary Vascular Unit (the largest referral clinic in the UK), now routinely scan patients with lung MRI protocols developed by our group, this is the largest pulmonary vascular MRI cohort in the world. The MRI lung perfusion scans and MR angiograms developed have replaced nuclear medicine V/Q for screening for chronic thrombo-embolic pulmonary hypertension and X-ray pulmonary angiogram scans to plan for pulmonary endarterectomy (modalities currently used elsewhere in the UK). Our techniques provide superior image quality whilst saving patients an unnecessary radiation dose (1-2 and 6 mSv respectively) and an invasive catheter procedure with associated morbidity (serious adverse events 1% and mortality <0.1%). Other sites in the UK NHS e.g. Papworth the National Referral centre for pulmonary endarterectomy and Edinburgh have adopted our MR protocols for pulmonary vascular disease.

For further information visit the POLARIS website: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polaris/index