Left atrial conduit volume is generated by deviation from the constant-volume state of the left heart: a combined MRI-echocardiographic study

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Jun;286(6):H2416-24. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00969.2003. Epub 2004 Jan 29.


Although modeling the four-chambered heart as a constant-volume pump successfully predicts causal physiological relationships between cardiac indexes previously deemed unrelated, the real four-chambered heart slightly deviates from the constant-volume state by ventricular end systole. This deviation has consequences that affect chamber function, specifically, left atrial (LA) function. LA attributes have been characterized as booster pump, reservoir, and conduit functions, yet characterization of their temporal occurrence or their causal relationship to global heart function has been lacking. We investigated LA function in the context of the constant-volume attribute of the left heart in 10 normal subjects using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and contemporaneous Doppler echocardiography synchronized via ECG. Left ventricular (LV) and LA volumes as a function of time were determined via MRI. Transmitral flow, pulmonary vein (PV) flow, and lateral mitral annular velocity were recorded via echocardiography. The relationship between the MRI-determined diastolic LA conduit-volume (LACV) filling rate and systolic LA filling rate correlate well with the relationship between the echocardiographically determined average flow rate during the early portion of the PV D wave and the average flow rate during the PV S wave (r = 0.76). We conclude that the end-systolic deviation from constant volume for the left heart requires the generation of the LACV during diastole. Because early rapid filling of the left ventricle is the driving force for LACV generation while the left atrium remains passive, it may be more appropriate to consider LACV to be a property of ventricular diastolic rather than atrial function.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Function, Left / physiology*
  • Cardiac Volume / physiology*
  • Diastole / physiology
  • Echocardiography, Doppler / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Veins / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*