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NMR Biomed. 2008 Aug;21(7):765-72. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1268.

Cine-MRI versus two-dimensional echocardiography to measure in vivo left ventricular function in rat heart.

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Cardiac Metabolism Research Group, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Two-dimensional echocardiography is the most commonly used non-invasive method for measuring in vivo cardiac function in experimental animals. In humans, measurements of cardiac function made using cine-MRI compare favourably with those made using echocardiography. However, no rigorous comparison has been made in small animals. Here, standard short-axis two-dimensional (2D) echocardiography (2D-echo) and cine-MRI measurements were made in the same rats, both control and after chronic myocardial infarction. Correlations between the two techniques were found for end diastolic area, stroke area and ejection fraction, but cine-MRI measurements of ejection fraction were 12+/-6% higher than those made using 2D-echo, because of the 1.8-fold higher temporal resolution of the MRI technique (4.6 ms vs 8.3 ms). Repeated measurements on the same group of rats over several days showed that the cine-MRI technique was more reproducible than 2D-echo, in that 2D-echo would require five times more animals to find a statistically significant difference. In summary, caution should be exercised when comparing functional results acquired using short-axis 2D-echo vs cine-MRI. The accuracy of cine-MRI allows identification of alterations in heart function that may be missed when using 2D-echo.

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