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Magnetic resonance imaging of complex congenital heart disease.

Current MR techniques enable both anatomical and functional evaluations of the heart. Although it is rarely used as a primary diagnostic tool in pediatric cardiology, it can be used as a valuable adjunct to echocardiography and angiography. MRI is particularly useful in clarification of morphology of complex congenital heart diseases. It is the most accurate method of determination of visceral and atrial situs. It is easy to evaluate the systemic and pulmonary venous connections that are very important for the Fontan type of operation, especially in patients with visceral heterotaxy. It facilitates demonstration of diminutive pulmonary arteries in patients with pulmonary atresia. It clearly demonstrates juxtaposition of the atrial appendages that is often missed by echocardiography. The anatomy of the twisted atrioventricular connections is much more clear in MRI than in echocardiography. It enables en face imaging of ventricular septal defect that provides a surgical view. We find en face imaging particularly helpful in patients with double inlet left ventricle and transposition of the great arteries where the size of the ventricular septal defect governs the blood flow into the aorta. It is often advantageous to echocardiography in defining the type of univentricular atrioventricular connections by demonstrating the position and topology of the rudimentary chamber in difficult cases. In double outlet right ventricle, the spatial relationship of the ventricular septal defect to the great arterial valves can be clearly defined by visualizing the ventricular septal defect and the outlet septum in the same imaging plane.

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