Four-dimensional (4D) flow cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an emerging technique used for intra-cardiac blood flow assessment. The role of 4D flow cardiovascular MRI in the assessment of trans-valvular flow in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) has not previously been assessed. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility, image quality, and internal validity of 4D flow cardiovascular MRI in the quantification of trans-valvular flow in patients with AF.
Patients with AF and healthy controls in sinus rhythm underwent cardiovascular MRI, including 4D flow studies. Quality assurance checks were done on the raw data and streamlines. Consistency was investigated by trans-valvular flow assessment between the mitral valve (MV) and the aortic valve (AV).
Eight patients with AF (88% male, mean age 62±13 years, mean heart rate (HR) 83±16 beats per minute (bpm)) were included and compared with ten healthy controls (70% male, mean age 41±20 years, mean HR 68.5±9 bpm). All scans were of either good quality with minimal blurring artefacts, or excellent quality with no artefacts. No significant bias was observed between the AV and MV stroke volumes in either healthy controls (-4.8, 95% CI -15.64 to 6.04; P=0.34) or in patients with AF (1.64, 95% CI -4.7 to 7.94; P=0.56). A significant correlation was demonstrated between MV and AV stroke volumes in both healthy controls (r=0.87, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.97; P=0.001) and in AF patients (r=0.82, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.97; P=0.01).
In patients with AF, 4D flow cardiovascular MRI is feasible with good image quality, allowing for quantification of trans-valvular flow.