Background: Cardiac MRI is important in the treatment of children with congenital heart disease, but sufficient normative data are lacking. For ventricular volumes and mass, we sought to deliver reference centiles and to investigate sex effects.
Methods and results: We included 114 healthy children and adolescents, uniformly distributed spanning an age range of 4 to 20 years, as required by the Lambda-Mu-Sigma method to achieve a percentile distribution, thus avoiding arbitrary age categories. Subjects underwent axial volumetry (1.5-T scanner) using standardized 2D steady-state free-precession and flow protocols. Percentiles were computed for age 8 to 20 years (99 subjects) because breath-holds were more consistent in this group. When indexed for body surface area or height, the centile curves of ventricular volumetric parameters showed allometric increase until adolescence, when a plateau was reached, with values comparable to published adult reference data. In contrast, ventricular mass centiles increased without plateau. There was a significant sex difference, with centiles reflecting larger values in boys than in girls (P<0.05) when ventricular volumes were indexed to body surface area or height but not when indexed to weight (exception: mass). There was excellent agreement of axial and short-axis volumetry and of volumetric and flow-derived stroke volumes.
Conclusions: Percentiles for ventricular volumes and mass in healthy children have been established to serve as reference values in pediatric heart disease. Significant sex differences were noted when indexing volumes to body surface area or height. Unisex centiles related to weight may be considered for chamber volumes albeit not for mass.