Evaluation of Cardiac Shunts With 4D Flow Cardiac Magnetic Resonance: Intra- and Interobserver Variability

Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Manuscript
Authors Javier Urmeneta Ulloa MD, Ana Álvarez Vázquez MD, Vicente Martínez de Vega MD, José Ángel Cabrera MD, PhD

In the last decade, the capacity of magnetic resonance (MR) to evaluate congenital anomalies has improved substantially. To date, only a few studies have evaluated the value of 4D-flow MRI in shunt assessments.

To assess the intra- and interobserver variability of 4D-flow MRI in patients diagnosed with cardiac/extracardiac shunt. Secondarily, to assess the feasibility of directly measuring the shunt and to determine the prognostic correlation with the pulmonary-to-systemic (Qp/Qs) flow ratio.

Study Type

In all, 18 patients with cardiac shunt diagnosis.

Field Strength/Sequence
1.5 T/4D phase-contrast MRI.

Pulmonary and systemic flows were measured at different locations to assess the internal consistency by two observers (twice by one, and once by the other). The Qp/Qs ratio was calculated. When feasible, direct flow was quantified by planimetry.

Statistical Tests
Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient was used to assess the relationship between pulmonary/systemic flows measured at different levels and to compare the jet characteristics with prognostic data as right ventricle volume. Intra- and interobserver variability were determined by Bland–Altman plots and interobserver correlation.

The most common shunt type (n = 10; 55.5%) was ostium secundum atrial septal defect (ASD). Direct visualization and quantification of shunt flow was possible in all studies. Pulmonary and systemic flows showed a strong correlation between these measures (Spearman’s rho [r] of 0.872 and 0.899). The mean Qp/Qs ratio was 1.61(0.62). Mean flow rate was 2.01(1.68) l/min. The mean jet diameter was 11.88 (5.44) mm. Intraobserver (r = 0.97) and interobserver correlation (ICC = 0.95) for the Qp/Qs calculation were both excellent. Direct measurement of flow was strongly correlated (r = 0.98; ICC = 0.95). Correlation was strong between Qp/Qs and direct jet flow (r = 0.76 and 0.77), Qp/Qs and mean jet diameter (r = 0.79 and 0.94), and Qp/Qs with jet area (r = 0.77 and 0.94).

Data Conclusion
Measurement of the Qp/Qs ratio and direct shunt quantification using 4D-flow MRI was feasible, and highly reproducible. Internal consistency was excellent, with low intra- and interobserver variability. Correlation between the Qp/Qs ratio, direct flow measurement, mean diameter, and jet area was strong.