Background: Computed tomography angiography (CTA) or contrast-enhanced (CE) cardiovascular magnetic resonance angiography (CMRA) is often obtained in patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing evaluation prior to pulmonary vein (PV) isolation. Drawbacks of CTA include radiation exposure and potential risks from iodinated contrast agent administration. Free-breathing 3D balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) Non-contrast CMRA is a potential imaging option, but vascular detail can be suboptimal due to ghost artifacts and blurring that tend to occur with a Cartesian k-space trajectory or, in some cases, inconsistent respiratory gating. We therefore explored the potential utility of both breath-holding and free-breathing non-contrast CMRA, using radial k-space trajectories that are known to be less sensitive to flow and motion artifacts than Cartesian. Main body: Free-breathing 3D Cartesian and radial stack-of-stars acquisitions were compared in 6 healthy subjects. In addition, 27 patients underwent CTA and non-contrast CMRA for PV mapping. Three radial CMR acquisition strategies were tested: (1) breath-hold (BH) 2D radial bSSFP (BH-2D); (2) breath-hold, multiple thin-slab 3D stack-of-stars bSSFP (BH-SOS); and (3) navigator-gated free-breathing (FB) 3D stack-of-star bSSFP using a spatially non-selective RF excitation (FB-NS-SOS). A non-rigid registration algorithm was used to compensate for variations in breath-hold depth. In healthy subjects, image quality and vessel sharpness using a free-breathing 3D SOS acquisition was significantly better than free-breathing (FB) Cartesian 3D. In patients, diagnostic image quality was obtained using all three radial CMRA techniques, with BH-SOS and FB-NS-SOS outperforming BH-2D. There was overall good correlation for PV maximal diameter between BH-2D and CTA (ICC = 0.87/0.83 for the two readers), excellent correlation between BH-SOS and CTA (ICC = 0.90/0.91), and good to excellent correlation between FB-NS-SOS and CTA (ICC = 0.87/0.94). For PV area, there was overall good correlation between BH-2D and CTA (ICC = 0.79/0.83), good to excellent correlation between BH-SOS and CTA (ICC = 0.88/0.91) and excellent correlation between FB-NS-SOS and CTA (ICC = 0.90/0.95). CNR was significantly higher with BH-SOS (mean = 11.04) by comparison to BH-2D (mean = 6.02; P = 0.007) and FB-NS-SOS (mean = 5.29; P = 0.002). Conclusion: Our results suggest that a free-breathing stack-of-stars bSSFP technique is advantageous in providing accurate depiction of PV anatomy and ostial measurements without significant degradation from off-resonance artifacts, and with better image quality than Cartesian 3D. For patients in whom respiratory gating is unsuccessful, a breath-hold thin-slab stack-of-stars technique with retrospective motion correction may be a useful alternative.
- Pulmonary veins
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine