Imaging of arrhythmia: Real-time cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in atrial fibrillation

Kerstin Laubrock, Thassilo von Loesch, Michael Steinmetz, Joachim Lotz, Jens Frahm, Martin Uecker, Christina Unterberg-Buchwald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Quantitative evaluations of function, volume and mass are fundamental in the diagnostic workup of different cardiovascular diseases and can be exactly determined by CMRI in sinus rhythm. This does not hold true in arrhythmia as CMR is hampered by reconstruction artifacts caused by inconsistent data from multiple heartbeats. Real-time (RT) MRI at high temporal resolution might reduce these problems.

METHODS: Consecutive patients with atrial fibrillation were prospectively included and underwent RT and conventional CINE CMR in randomized order. 29 patients were studied at 1.5 T and 30 patients at 3 T. At 3 T a group of 20 subjects in sinus rhythm served as controls. RT and CINE image quality was evaluated in different planes and for different wall sections using a Likert scale (from zero to four). Volumetric analysis was performed using two types of software and differences between RT and CINE CMR were evaluated.

RESULTS: In patients with atrial fibrillation RT CMR short axis (SA) resulted in a significantly higher image quality compared to CINE imaging both at 1.5 T and 3 T (1.5 T: mid SA: 3.55 ± 0.5 RT vs 2.6 ± 0.9 CINE, p = 0.0001; 3 T: mid SA: 3.15 ± 0.9 RT vs 2.6 ±1.0 CINE, p = 0.03); This qualitative difference was more marked and significant for the long axis views (2CV and 4CV) at 1.5 T (1.5 T: 2CV: 3.2 ± 0.6 RT vs 2.65 ± 1.1 CINE; p = 0.011; 4CV: 2.9 ± 0.69 RT vs 2.4 ± 0.9 CINE; p = 0.0044). During sinus rhythm CINE images were superior concerning diagnostic quality (3 T mid SA: 3.35 ± 0.45 RT vs 3.8 ± 0.5 CINE, p = 0.008). Quantitative analysis was successful with both software packages and the results showed a good correlation (Pearson correlation between 0.679 and 0.921 for patients). RT CMR resulted in slightly lower functional volumes than CINE CMR (3 T: patients: EDVI 86 ± 29 ml/m2 RT vs 93 29 ml/m2± 29 CINE, Pearson r = 0.902) but similar ejection fractions (3 T: patients: EF 47 ± 16% RT vs 45 ± 13% CINE, Pearson r = 0679; controls: EF 63 ± 6 RT vs 63 ± 3 CINE, Pearson r = 0.695).

CONCLUSION: RT CMR improves image quality in arrhythmic patients and renders studies more comfortable. Volumetric analysis is feasible with slightly lower values relative to CINE CMR, while ejection fractions are comparable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100404
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology Open
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • CINE
  • MRI
  • Real time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology


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