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Pediatr Cardiol. 2014 Apr;35(4):645-51. doi: 10.1007/s00246-013-0833-y. Epub 2013 Nov 17.

Comparison of area-length method by echocardiography versus full-volume quantification by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging for the assessment of left atrial volumes in children, adolescents, and young adults.

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  • 1The Heart Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue MLC 2003, Cincinnati, OH, 45229-3039, USA,


Left atrial (LA) size is a known predictor of adverse cardiovascular events. Echocardiography is the modality of choice for the evaluation of atrial size; however, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) remains the "gold standard." We sought to calculate atrial volumes using the area-length method by both echocardiography and cMRI and compare them with area-volume quantification by cMRI. Thiry-eight patients (mean age 20 ± 12 years, 71% male) who underwent cMRI and echocardiography between September 2010 and June 2012 were retrospectively identified. The time interval between the two studies was ≤ 6 months. LA volumes by echocardiogram were estimated using the area-length method: LA volume = (0.85 × area(4ch) × area(2ch))/(shortest atrial length). The atrial length and area were measured in standard apical two-chamber and four-chamber planes. Measured values were indexed to body surface area (BSA). CMRI measurements were obtained from prospectively gated steady-state free precession cine stack images obtained in a standard four-chamber plane. LA volumes were calculated using Simpson's method: LA volume = LA area × (slice thickness + gap) per slice. Slice thickness ranged from 5 to 7 mm with contiguous slices of 5 to 7 mm. The values were indexed to BSA. Statistics were summarized using measures of central tendency. LA volumes by echocardiography were significantly less than those by full-volume cMRI quantification. The mean LA volume by echocardiography and full-volume cMRI were 35 ± 14.5 and 42.4 ± 17.2, respectively (p = 0.05). The mean difference between LA volumes obtained by the two methods was 7.4 ± 10.6. LA volume measured by cMRI using the area-length method closely approximated full-volume assessment by cMRI with mean values of 42.9 ± 17.4 versus 42.4 ± 17.2, respectively (p = 0.91). There were no significant differences in the patient characteristics between the two study modalities. LA volumes as measured by echocardiography using the area-length method consistently underestimated the true volume when compared with cMRI. LA volumes measured using the area-length method by cMRI is an alternative technique for accurately quantifying chamber size and can be useful in decreasing scan time or when full-volume data sets are incomplete.

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