Characterization of left and right atrial function in healthy volunteers by cardiovascular magnetic resonance

J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2016 Oct 10;18(1):64. doi: 10.1186/s12968-016-0284-8.


Background: Left and right atrial function show a different pattern in advanced age in order to maintain adequate ventricular filling. It has been shown that left atrial (LA) function has a prognostic value in a number of heart conditions. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) provides high quality images of the left and right atria using high temporal resolution steady state free precession (SSFP) cine sequences. We used SSFP cines to characterize atrial function in healthy, normotensive, volunteers.

Methods: We measured maximum, preatrial contraction and minimum left and right atrial volumes in 120 healthy subjects after careful exclusion of cardiovascular abnormality (60 men, 60 women; 20 subjects per age decile from 20 to 80 years). Data were generated from 3-dimensional modeling, including tracking of the atrioventricular ring motion and time-volume curves analysis. With those measurements, all the usual parameters for left and right atrial function were calculated.

Results: Gender had significant influence on some parameters of left and right atrial conduit and booster pump function. Age significantly influenced the majority of parameters of both left and right atrial function, with typically lower reservoir and conduit functions and higher booster pump function, both in males and females belonging to older age groups. CMR normal ranges were modelled for clinical use with normalization, where appropriate, for body surface area and gender, displaying parameters with respect to age.

Conclusions: CMR normal reference ranges for components of left and right atrial function are provided for males and females for a wide age range.

Keywords: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Conduit; Heart; Left atrium; Pump function; Reference values; Reservoir; Right atrium.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Ventricular Function, Left*
  • Ventricular Function, Right*
  • Young Adult