A research grant from the National Institutes of Health to an LDS Hospital researcher may help physicians diagnose and treat coronary artery problems with greater accuracy.

Dr. Dennis Parker, of the hospital's Medical Biophysics Department, received $305,905 from the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.The money will be used to further research and fine-tuning of a system that makes three-dimensional computer-enhanced images of the coronary arteries, which provide blood to the heart.

Physicians currently use different means to view arteries before diagnosing a condition. With three-dimensional images, physicians will be able to analyze measurements from one section of artery, or study the measurements of the entire coronary tree.

Parker and his colleagues make the computerized three-dimensional images from X-ray angiograms taken from two different angles.

The accuracy of the images, Parker said, is the main emphasis of the research. They will use more than two angles of angiograms to improve the accuracy.

"We can make the images now, but the accuracy for measurement is not dependable. One section of artery might be accurate, while another section can be as much as a couple of millimeters off," Parker explained. "We want to make the images as accurate as possible."

Parker said the three-dimensional images have no clinical value, but the project has an immediate effect on other research that does have clinical value.

"Researchers will be able to measure the progression of coronary artery disease and the reaction drugs have on the inside of arteries," he said. "For example, physicians will be able to accurately tell how much a drug is or isn't clearing blockage by measuring the arteries through the three-dimensional images."

Parker said the grant money will cover the expenses of the research for the next three years.