Assessment of left atrial function by MRI myocardial feature tracking

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2015 Aug;42(2):379-89. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24851. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Background: Left atrium (LA) volumes and function are predictors of cardiovascular events. Because LA function cannot be assessed from cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using the well-established left ventricular tagging techniques, we hypothesized that adequate feature tracking (FT) applied to conventional cine MRI data could characterize LA function accurately.

Methods: We studied 10 young (28 ± 7 years) and 10 elderly (64 ± 6 years) healthy subjects, as well as 20 patients with moderate to severe aortic valve stenosis (AVS; 73 ± 15 years, effective aortic valve area: 0.67 ± 0.36 cm(2) ). MRI cine two-, three-, and four-chamber views were analyzed using a newly proposed FT method based on spatial correlation and endocardial detection resulting in: regional and global longitudinal strain and strain rate, radial motion fraction and relative velocity for the three LA motion phases including reservoir, conduit, and LA contraction.

Results: FT reliability was indicated by a good overlap between tracking results and manual LA endocardial borders, the low error for comparison against theoretical strains introduced in a synthetic phantom and the good inter-observer reproducibility (coefficient of variation < 15%). While all LA functional parameters were significantly impaired in AVS patients (p < 0.04), subclinical age-related variations induced a decreasing trend on all LA parameters but were significant only for radial conduit function parameters (p < 0.03). Finally, LA functional parameters characterized LA alteration in AVS with higher sensitivity than conventional LA volumetric parameters.

Conclusions: Left atrial FT is feasible on MRI cine images and its addition to conventional analysis tools might enhance the diagnosis value of MRI in many heart diseases.

Keywords: feature tracking; left atrial function; magnetic resonance imaging; myocardial strain and strain rate.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity