Auckland Bioengineering Institute

MRI compatible cycle ergometer

The MRI compatible cycle ergometer in use at Auckland Hospital.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) allows non-invasive assessment of heart function and major blood vessels. Exercise alters vascular response and places additional load on the heart which can highlight abnormalities which are not apparent at rest.

Due to the nature of the MRI scanner environment, it is technically difficult to combine exercise testing with MRI. These difficulties arise from the high magnetic fields inherent to MRI scanners and interference from electronic signals.

An exercise bicycle compatible with an MRI has been developed to allow patients with cardiovascular disease to exercise while in the scanner. Correspondingly specialised MR imaging procedures to capture cardiac information at elevated heart rates during exercise have been developed. These methods can be applied to assess cardiac function in patient groups with cardiovascular disease, both at rest and during exercise.

In a current clinical study we are particularly interested in arterial stiffness which is known to increase with age. Measuring this stiffness allows cardiologists to estimate a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease and further understand cardiac function, disease progression and treatment outcomes.


Adjunct Associate Professor Ralph Stewart

Adjunct Associate Professor Ralph Stewart
Honorary Academic
Phone: not available

Previous contributors

The first version of this ergometer was designed for Dr Silmara Gusso and Professor Paul Hofman of the Liggins Institute.


  1. Gusso, S., Salvador, C., Hofman, P., Cutfield, W., Baldi, J. C., Taberner, A., & Nielsen, P. (2012). Design and testing of an MRI-compatible cycle ergometer for non-invasive cardiac assessments during exercise. Biomedical Engineering Online, 11(1), 13. BioMed Central Ltd. doi:10.1186/1475-925X-11-13

In the media


The news segment below was followed that evening TV1 News segment titled 'NZ machine set to revolutionise detection of heart problems' on Wednesday 13th August. Reporter, Lorelei Mason. To view the segment, click here.


Professor Alistair Young featured in a TV1 Breakfast segment titled 'Exercise testing with MRI made possible' on Wednesday 13th August. PhD Candidate Paul Roberts also appears. Reporter, Lorelei Mason. To view the segment, click here.