OBJECTIVES: Echocardiography and fluoroscopy are the main techniques for prosthetic heart valve (PHV) evaluation, but because of specific limitations they may not identify the morphological substrate or the extent of PHV pathology. Cardiac computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have emerged as new potential imaging modalities for valve prostheses. We present an overview of the possibilities and pitfalls of CT and MRI for PHV assessment based on a systematic literature review of all experimental and patient studies.
METHODS: For this, a comprehensive systematic search was performed in PubMed and Embase on March 24, 2015, containing CT/MRI and PHV synonyms.
RESULTS: Our final selection yielded 82 articles on surgical valves. CT allowed adequate assessment of most modern PHVs and complemented echocardiography in detecting the obstruction cause (pannus or thrombus), bioprosthesis calcifications, and endocarditis extent (valve dehiscence and pseudoaneurysms). No clear advantage over echocardiography was found for the detection of vegetations or periprosthetic regurgitation. Whereas MRI metal artifacts may preclude direct prosthesis analysis, MRI provided information on PHV-related flow patterns and velocities. MRI demonstrated abnormal asymmetrical flow patterns in PHV obstruction and allowed prosthetic regurgitation assessment.
CONCLUSIONS: Hence, CT shows great clinical relevance as a complementary imaging tool for the diagnostic work-up of patients with suspected PHV obstruction and endocarditis. MRI shows potential for functional PHV assessment although more studies are required to provide diagnostic reference values to allow discrimination of normal from pathological conditions.