Objectives: This study assessed the usefulness and safety of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for systematically diagnosing heterotaxia in infants.
Background: Although it is important to diagnose and treat infants with heterotaxia, which is associated with viscerobronchial cardiovascular anomalies, systematic diagnosis of these anomalies by a single imaging technique is difficult.
Methods: Twenty patients with heterotaxia were evaluated. The infants ranged in age from 21 days to 12 months (average 5.2 months, average body weight 4.3 kg). Electrocardiographically gated MRI was performed by spin echo imaging techniques operating at 0.5 tesla.
Results: In all 20 patients, MRI results were sufficient to evaluate these anomalies without serious complications. In 17 patients, neither a spleen nor splenules were detected, but in 3 patients, a polymorphous spleen was visualized. In all 20 patients, bronchial anatomies were clearly visualized (bilateral eparterial bronchi in 14 patients, bilateral hyparterial bronchi in 2 and normal bronchial patterns in 4). Additionally, in a comparison of 149 observations of cardiovascular anatomy by MRI with those by angiography, discrepancies were found in only 10 observations (6.7%).
Conclusions: Magnetic resonance imaging was found to be safe and very useful for the systematic diagnosis of heterotaxia in infants.