Measurement of diffuse ventricular fibrosis with myocardial T1 in patients with atrial fibrillation

J Arrhythm. 2016 Feb;32(1):51-6. doi: 10.1016/j.joa.2015.08.005. Epub 2015 Oct 29.


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with cardiac fibrosis, which can now be measured noninvasively using T1-mapping with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI). This study aimed to assess the impact of AF on ventricular T1 at the time of CMRI.

Methods: Subjects with AF scheduled for AF ablation underwent CMRI with standard electrocardiography gating and breath-hold protocols on a 1.5 T scanner with post-contrast ventricular T1 recorded from 6 regions of interest at the mid-ventricle. Baseline demographic, clinical, and imaging characteristics were examined using univariate and multivariable linear regression modeling for an association with myocardial T1.

Results: One hundred fifty-seven patients were studied (32% women; median age, 61 years [interquartile range {IQR}, 55-67], 50% persistent AF [episodes>7 days or requiring electrical or pharmacologic cardioversion], 30% in AF at the time of the CMRI). The median global T1 was 404 ms (IQR, 381-428). AF at the time of CMRI was associated with a 4.4% shorter T1 (p=0.000) compared to sinus rhythm when adjusted for age, sex, persistent AF, body mass index, congestive heart failure, and renal dysfunction (estimated glomerular filtration rate<60). A post-hoc multivariate model adjusted for heart rate suggested that heart rate elevation (p=0.009) contributes to the reduction in T1 observed in patients with AF at the time of CMRI. No association between ventricular T1 and AF recurrence after ablation was demonstrated.

Conclusion: AF at the time of CMRI was associated with lower post-contrast ventricular T1 compared with sinus rhythm. This effect was at least partly due to elevated heart rate. T1 was not associated with the recurrence of AF after ablation.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Atrial fibrillation ablation; Cardiac MRI; Myocardial T1; Ventricular T1.