Multimodality Cardiac Imaging for the Assessment of Left Atrial Function and the Association With Atrial Arrhythmias
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Several cardiac imaging modalities are able to visualize the left atrium (LA) and, therefore, allow for quantification of both structural and functional properties of this cardiac chamber. In echocardiography, only the maximal LA volume is included in the assessment of diastolic function at the current moment. Numerous studies, however, have shown that functional measures may be superior to the maximal LA volume in several aspects and to possess clinical value even in the absence of structural abnormalities. Such functional measures could prove particularly useful in the setting of predicting atrial fibrillation, which will be a point of focus in this review. Pivotal cardiac magnetic resonance imaging studies have revealed high correlation between LA fibrosis and risk of atrial fibrillation recurrence after catheter ablation, and subsequent multimodality imaging studies have uncovered an inverse relationship between LA reservoir function and degree of LA fibrosis. This has sparked an increased interest into the application of advanced imaging modalities, including both speckle tracking echocardiography and tissue tracking by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Even though increasing evidence has supported the use of functional measures and proven its superiority to the maximal LA volume, they have still not been adopted in clinical guidelines. The reason for this discrepancy may rely on the fact that there is little to no agreement on how to technically perform deformation analysis of the LA. Such technical considerations, limitations, and alternate imaging prospects will be addressed in this review.
- atrial fibrillation
- cardiac computed tomography
- cardiac magnetic resonance imaging
- left atrium
- positron emission tomography
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.