Cardiothoracic Magnetic Resonance Flow Imaging

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Abstract

Multidimensional blood flow imaging with magnetic resonance has rapidly evolved over the last decade. The technique, often referred to as 4-dimensional (4D) flow, can now reliably image the heart and principal vessels of the chest in ≤15 minutes. In addition to dynamic 3D flow visualization, a range of unique quantitative hemodynamic markers can be calculated from 4D flow data. In this review article, we describe some of the more promising of these hemodynamic markers, including pulse wave velocity, pressure, turbulent kinetic energy, wall shear stress, and flow eccentricity. Evaluation of a range of cardiothoracic disorders has been explored with 4D flow, and many applications have been proposed. We also review the potential clinical applications of 4D flow in 4 broad contexts: the aorta, the pulmonary artery, acquired heart disease, and complex congenital heart disease. Promising preliminary results will be highlighted, including the use of abnormal systolic blood flow to risk-stratify patients for progressive valve-related aortic disease, turbulent kinetic energy to directly assess the hemodynamic impact of a stenotic lesion, and altered intracardiac flow to identify early heart failure. We discuss ongoing research efforts in the context of the larger clinical goals of 4D flow: the use of unique hemodynamic markers to (1) identify cardiovascular disease processes early in their course before clinical manifestation so that preemptive treatment can be undertaken; (2) refine the assessment of cardiovascular disease so as to better identify optimal medical or surgical therapies; and (3) enhance the evaluation and monitoring of the hemodynamic impact of different treatment options.

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