Fibrous Skeleton of the Heart: Anatomic Overview and Evaluation of Pathologic Conditions with CT and MR Imaging

The fibrous skeleton is concentrated at the base of the ventricular mass. It provides electrical insulation at the atrioventricular level and fibrous continuity for the leaflets of the mitral, aortic, and tricuspid valves. Its components include the fibrous trigones, the fibrous area of aortic-mitral continuity, the subvalvar collar of the mitral valve, the membranous septum, the interleaflet triangles, the tendon of Todaro, and likely the conus ligament. The majority of the mitral annulus is fibrous, but the only true fibrous part of the tricuspid annulus is where the valvar leaflets are attached to the central fibrous body. At the aortic annulus, the fibrous elements support only the noncoronary aortic sinus and parts of the right and left coronary sinuses. The ring-shaped annulus of the arterioventricular valves as localized with imaging techniques (imaging annulus) differs from the crown-shaped hemodynamic annulus of the arterial valves. The imaging annulus corresponds to the plane passing through the nadirs of the hinge-lines of the leaflets. The hinges of the pulmonary valve are not part of the fibrous skeleton. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are excellent modalities for evaluation of the anatomy, physiologic variations, and pathologic conditions of the fibrous skeleton. The submillimeter isotropic three-dimensional datasets obtained with CT and the high contrast resolution of MR imaging are the main advantages of these modalities in assessing anatomy. The function of the valves and associated annuli can best be studied with MR imaging. Pathologic conditions involving the area, including paravalvar leaks, abscesses, perforation, and pseudoaneurysms, usually occur as a complication of infective endocarditis or extensive calcifications after valvar surgery. MR imaging and CT can demonstrate these lesions equally well. CT is the preferred technique for showing the extent of calcifications in the fibrous skeleton. Large calcifications involving the central fibrous body can cause heart block by interfering with the normal function of the His bundle and its branches.

PMID: 28820653

Posted in Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and tagged , , .

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