Closing the Last Mile Gap in Access to Multimodality Imaging in Rural Settings: Design of the Imaging Core of the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal Study

Hooman Fazlalizadeh, Muhammad Shahzeb Khan, Ervin R. Fox, Pamela S. Douglas, David Adams, Michael J. Blaha, Melissa A. Daubert, Gary Dunn, Edwin van den Heuvel, Michelle D. Kelsey, Randolph P. Martin, James D. Thomas, Yngvil Thomas, Suzanne E. Judd, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Matthew J. Budoff, Gerald S. Bloomfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Achieving optimal cardiovascular health in rural populations can be challenging for several reasons including decreased access to care with limited availability of imaging modalities, specialist physicians, and other important health care team members. Therefore, innovative solutions are needed to optimize health care and address cardiovascular health disparities in rural areas. Mobile examination units can bring imaging technology to underserved or remote communities with limited access to health care services. Mobile examination units can be equipped with a wide array of assessment tools and multiple imaging modalities such as computed tomography scanning and echocardiography. The detailed structural assessment of cardiovascular and lung pathology, as well as the detection of extracardiac pathology afforded by computed tomography imaging combined with the functional and hemodynamic assessments acquired by echocardiography, yield deep phenotyping of heart and lung disease for populations historically underrepresented in epidemiological studies. Moreover, by bringing the mobile examination unit to local communities, innovative approaches are now possible including engagement with local professionals to perform these imaging assessments, thereby augmenting local expertise and experience. However, several challenges exist before mobile examination unit–based examinations can be effectively integrated into the rural health care setting including standardizing acquisition protocols, maintaining consistent image quality, and addressing ethical and privacy considerations. Herein, we discuss the potential importance of cardiac multimodality imaging to improve cardiovascular health in rural regions, outline the emerging experience in this field, highlight important current challenges, and offer solutions based on our experience in the RURAL (Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal) cohort study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere015496
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial intelligence
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • CT scan
  • echocardiography
  • ethnicity
  • rural population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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