4D Flow MRI has been used to quantify normal and deranged left ventricular blood flow characteristics on the basis of functionally distinct flow components. However, the application of this technique to the atria is challenging due to the presence of continuous inflow. This continuous inflow necessitates plane-based emission of particle traces from the inlet veins, leading to particles that represents different amounts of blood, and related quantification errors. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel fixed-volume approach for particle tracing and employ this method to develop quantitative analysis of 4D blood flow characteristics in the left atrium. 4D Flow MRI data were acquired during free-breathing using a navigator-gated gradient-echo sequence in three volunteers at 1.5T. Fixed-volume particle traces emitted from the pulmonary veins were used to visualize left atrial blood flow and to quantitatively separate the flow into two functionally distinct flow components: Direct flow=particle traces that enter and leave the atrium in one heartbeat, Retained flow=particle traces that enter the atrium and remains there for one cardiac cycle. Flow visualization based on fixed-volume traces revealed that, beginning in early ventricular systole, flow enters the atrium and engages with residual blood volume to form a vortex. In early diastole during early ventricular filling, the organized vortical flow is extinguished, followed by formation of a second transient atrial vortex. Finally, in late diastole during atrial contraction, a second acceleration of blood into the ventricle is seen. The direct and retained left atrial flow components were between 44 and 57% and 43–56% of the stroke volume, respectively. In conclusion, fixed-volume particle tracing permits separation of left atrial blood flow into different components based on the transit of blood through the atrium.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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