Purpose: With the hypothesis that 4D flow can be used in evaluation of cardiac shunts, we seek to evaluate the multilevel and interreader reproducibility of measurements of the blood flow, shunt fraction and shunt volume in patients with atrial septum defect (ASD) in practice at multiple clinical sites.
Materials and methods: Four-dimensional flow MRI examinations were performed at four institutions across Europe and the US. Twenty-nine patients (mean age, 43 years; 11 male) were included in the study. Flow measurements were performed at three levels (valve, main artery and periphery) in both the pulmonary and systemic circulation by two independent readers and compared against stroke volumes from 4D flow anatomic data. Further, the shunt ratio (Qp/Qs) was calculated. Additionally, shunt volume was quantified at the atrial level by tracking the atrial septum.
Results: Measurements of the pulmonary blood flow at multiple levels correlate well whether measuring at the valve, main pulmonary artery or branch pulmonary arteries (r = 0.885-0.886). Measurements of the systemic blood flow show excellent correlation, whether measuring at the valve, ascending aorta or sum of flow from the superior vena cava (SVC) and descending aorta (r = 0.974-0.991). Intraclass agreement between the two observers for the flow measurements varies between 0.96 and 0.99. Compared with stroke volume, pulmonic flow is underestimated with 0.26 l/min at the main pulmonary artery level, and systemic flow is overestimated with 0.16 l/min at the ascending aorta level. Direct measurements of ASD flow are feasible in 20 of 29 (69%) patients.
Conclusion: Blood flow and shunt quantification measured at multiple levels and performed by different readers are reproducible and consistent with 4D flow MRI.
Keywords: 4D flow MRI; Atrial septal defect; Multiple measurements.