Cutting edge research into MRI for cystic fibrosis and PCD

Lung health

As leaders in the field of cardiac and respiratory care, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care Outpatients and Diagnostics at 77 Wimpole Street are contributing to valuable research into the field of magnetic resonance imaging of Cystic fibrosis (CF) and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD).


At RB&HH we look after the largest group of CF patients in Europe and one of the largest cohorts of patients with PCD in the world. These are lifelong conditions and so need lifelong care. They are both multisystem diseases but the most common and serious problems usually relate to the lungs, with development of recurrent infections and subsequent permanent lung damage.

Recent research has shown that MRI scanning can provide useful structural and functional information about how well the lungs are coping, importantly without any x-ray exposure.

When the patients are young, and increasingly live much longer and healthier lives than in previous decades, keeping radiation exposure to a minimum becomes an increasing concern.

One of the most important advantages of this approach is the ability to use MRI in a repeating manner to follow disease progression or monitor the efficacy of treatments and interventions. Furthermore, these multisystem conditions may damage other organs such the liver, gall bladder and pancreas and may also cause sinus disease, all of which can be exquisitely imaged with MRI as part of a 'one-stop' comprehensive and short study.

Recent research suggests that MRI scanning can provide useful structural information about how well the lungs are functioning, without any exposure to x-ray radiation.

Dr Simon Padley, Director of Radiology at the RB&HH NHS FT, and who is leading this project with Dr Tom Semple, says “We are very excited to be collaborating with other academic centres, including researchers in Basel and Manchester, to refine these cutting edge MRI techniques and translate their important basic research into everyday clinical imaging tools. If we are able to continue along this exciting pathway of development we envisage that in a few short years the CTs and X-rays used today for PCD and CF imaging will be almost completely replaced by these new, safe and elegant techniques”.

Whilst RB&HH Specialist Care provides the very best in routine private patient MRI, CT, PET, x-ray, lung function and echocardiography across their 3 sites, research programmes remain an important component in delivering the highest standard of care to patients and their families.


Professor Simon Padley

Consultant radiologist