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Cardiol Res Pract. 2012;2012:658937. doi: 10.1155/2012/658937. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

The use of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnostic workup and treatment of atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1Division of Experimental Cardiology, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and imposes a huge clinical and economic burden. AF is correlated with an increased morbidity and mortality, mainly due to stroke and heart failure. Cardiovascular imaging modalities, including echocardiography, computed tomography (CT), and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), play a central role in the workup and treatment of AF. One of the major advantages of CMR is the high contrast to noise ratio combined with good spatial and temporal resolution, without any radiation burden. This allows a detailed assessment of the structure and function of the left atrium (LA). Of particular interest is the ability to visualize the extent of LA wall injury. We provide a focused review of the value of CMR in identifying the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of AF, its role in stroke prevention and in the guidance of radiofrequency catheter ablation. CMR is a promising technique that could add valuable information for therapeutic decision making in specific subpopulations with AF.

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