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Imaging congenital heart disease in adults.

Transthoracic echocardiography is the first-line modality for cardiovascular imaging in adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD). The windows of access that are possible with transthoracic echocardiography are, however, rarely adequate for all regions of interest. The choice of further imaging depends on the clinical questions that remain to be addressed. The strengths of MRI include comprehensive access and coverage, providing imaging of all parts of the right ventricle, the pulmonary arteries, pulmonary veins and aorta. Cine images and velocity maps are acquired in specifically aligned planes, with stacks of cines or dynamic contrast angiography providing more comprehensive coverage. Tissues can be characterised if necessary, and MRI provides relatively accurate measurements of biventricular function and volume flow. These parameters are important in the assessment and follow-up of adults after repairs for tetralogy of Fallot or transposition of the great arteries and after Fontan operations. The superior spatial resolution and rapid acquisition of CT are invaluable in selected situations, including the visualisation of anomalous coronary or aortopulmonary collateral arteries, the assessment of luminal patency after stenting and imaging in patients with pacemakers. Ionising radiation is, however, a concern in younger patients who may need repeated investigation. Adults with relatively complex conditions should ideally be imaged in a specialist ACHD centre, where dedicated echocardiographic and cardiovascular MRI services are a necessary facility. General radiologists should be aware of the nature and pathophysiology of congenital heart disease, and should be alert for previously undiagnosed cases presenting in adulthood, including cases of atrial septal defect, aortic coarctation, patent ductus arteriosus, double-chambered right ventricle and congenitally corrected transposition.

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