The reproducibility of late gadolinium enhancement cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging of post-ablation atrial scar: a cross-over study

BACKGROUND:

Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging has been used to visualise post-ablation atrial scar (PAAS), generally employing a three-dimensional (3D) late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) technique. However the reproducibility of PAAS imaging has not been determined. This cross-over study is the first to investigate the reproducibility of the technique, crucial for both future research design and clinical implementation.

METHODS:

Forty subjects undergoing first time ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) had detailed CMR assessment of PAAS. Following baseline pre-ablation scan, two scans (separated by 48 h) were performed at three months post-ablation. Each scan session included 3D LGE acquisition at 10, 20 and 30 min post administration of gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA). Subjects were allocated at second scan post-ablation to identical imaging parameters (‘Repro’, n = 10), 3 T scanner (‘3 T’, n = 10), half-slice thickness (‘Half-slice’, n = 10) or half GBCA dose (‘Half-gad’, n = 10). PAAS was compared to baseline scar and then reproducibility was assessed for two measures of thresholded scar (% left atrial (LA) occupied by PAAS (%LA PAAS) and Pulmonary Vein Encirclement (PVE)), and then four measures of non-thresholded scar (point-by-point assessment of PAAS, four normalisation methods). Thresholded measures of PAAS were evaluated against procedural outcome (AF recurrence).

RESULTS:

A total of 271 3D acquisitions (out of maximum 280, 96.7%) were acquired. At 20 and 30 min, inter-scan reproducibility was good to excellent (coefficient of variation at 20 min and 30 min: %LA PAAS 0.41 and 0.20; PVE 0.13 and 0.04 respectively for ‘Repro’ group). Changes in imaging parameters, especially reduced GBCA dose, reduced inter-scan reproducibility, but for most measures remained good to excellent (ICC for %LA PAAS 0.454-0.825, PVE 0.618-0.809 at 30 min). For non-thresholded scar, highest reproducibility was observed using blood pool z-score normalisation technique: inter-scan ICC 0.759 (absolute agreement, ‘Repro’ group). There was no significant relationship between indices of PAAS and AF recurrence.

CONCLUSION:

PAAS imaging is a reproducible finding. Imaging should be performed at least 20 min post-GBCA injection, and a blood pool z-score should be considered for normalisation of signal intensities. The clinical implications of these findings remain to be established in the absence of a simple correlation with arrhythmia outcome.

PMID: 29554919

Posted in Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

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