Aortic valve stenotic area calculation from phase contrast cardiovascular magnetic resonance: the importance of short echo time

Kieran R O'Brien, Ruvin S Gabriel, Andreas Greiser, Brett R Cowan, Alistair A Young, Andrew J Kerr
Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance 2009 November 19, 11: 49

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) can potentially quantify aortic valve area (AVA) in aortic stenosis (AS) using a single-slice phase contrast (PC) acquisition at valve level: AVA = aortic flow/aortic velocity-time integral (VTI). However, CMR has been shown to underestimate aortic flow in turbulent high velocity jets, due to intra-voxel dephasing. This study investigated the effect of decreasing intra-voxel dephasing by reducing the echo time (TE) on AVA estimates in patients with AS.

METHOD: 15 patients with moderate or severe AS, were studied with three different TEs (2.8 ms/2.0 ms/1.5 ms), in the main pulmonary artery (MPA), left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) and 0 cm/1 cm/2.5 cm above the aortic valve (AoV). PC estimates of stroke volume (SV) were compared with CMR left ventricular SV measurements and PC peak velocity, VTI and AVA were compared with Doppler echocardiography. CMR estimates of AVA obtained by direct planimetry from cine acquisitions were also compared with the echoAVA.

RESULTS: With a TE of 2.8 ms, the mean PC SV was similar to the ventricular SV at the MPA, LVOT and AoV0 cm (by Bland-Altman analysis bias +/- 1.96 SD, 1.3 +/- 20.2 mL/-6.8 +/- 21.9 mL/6.5 +/- 50.7 mL respectively), but was significantly lower at AoV1 and AoV2.5 (-29.3 +/- 31.2 mL/-21.1 +/- 35.7 mL). PC peak velocity and VTI underestimated Doppler echo estimates by approximately 10% with only moderate agreement. Shortening the TE from 2.8 to 1.5 msec improved the agreement between ventricular SV and PC SV at AoV0 cm (6.5 +/- 50.7 mL vs 1.5 +/- 37.9 mL respectively) but did not satisfactorily improve the PC SV estimate at AoV1 cm and AoV2.5 cm. Agreement of CMR AVA with echoAVA was improved at TE 1.5 ms (0.00 +/- 0.39 cm2) versus TE 2.8 (0.11 +/- 0.81 cm2). The CMR method which agreed best with echoAVA was direct planimetry (-0.03 cm2 +/- 0.24 cm2).

CONCLUSION: Agreement of CMR AVA at the aortic valve level with echo AVA improves with a reduced TE of 1.5 ms. However, flow measurements in the aorta (AoV 1 and 2.5) are underestimated and 95% limits of agreement remain large. Further improvements or novel, more robust techniques are needed in the CMR PC technique in the assessment of AS severity in patients with moderate to severe aortic stenosis.

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