Background: Intracardiac baffles and extracardiac conduits have been used in the reconstructive surgery of a broad spectrum of congenital cardiac malformations. Periodic evaluation of these structures may not lend itself readily to echocardiographic and angiographic imaging. The purpose of the study was to describe the experience of our institution with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in evaluating conduits and baffles and to describe the simplified approach we developed to image these structures, which allows for grouping individual lesions into broad categories.
Methods and results: We retrospectively reviewed our MRI experience in visualizing these structures from 1989-1996. One hundred thirty-nine patients underwent MRI to visualize 144 structures (116 baffles, 28 conduits). The 116 baffles included 86 Fontan, 16 Mustard, 6 Senning, 6 left ventricle to aorta, 1 right ventricle to aorta, and 1 pulmonary vein to left atrium baffle. The 28 conduits included 15 right ventricle to pulmonary artery, 4 left ventricular apical to aorta, 2 left ventricle to pulmonary artery, 3 aorta to aorta, 2 inferior vena cava to left atrium conduits, and 2 aortic root replacements. Of the 3 aortic-aortic conduits, 1 was in conjoined twins. Both inferior vena cava-left atrial conduits were in a Baffes procedure. An infectious mass missed by echocardiography in a right ventricle to pulmonary artery conduit was visualized by MRI. With multiplanar reconstruction, contiguous images were stacked atop each other and resliced to define the salient points of the anatomy. Three-dimensional reconstruction further added to this delineation. All structures were visualized successfully, and an assessment of obstruction was made. Multiple examples of conduit and baffle narrowing were diagnosed by spin echo and cine MRI and were subsequently confirmed by catheterization and surgical inspection.
Conclusion: MRI, with multiplanar and 3-dimensional reconstruction, is useful in examining the variety of baffles and conduits used in congenital heart surgery. MRI can add to the care of patients whose echocardiographic windows or whose angiographically overlapping structures do not allow adequate delineation of conduits and baffles.