Detection of pulmonary vein and left atrial scar after catheter ablation with three-dimensional navigator-gated delayed enhancement MR imaging: initial experience.
PURPOSE: To prospectively evaluate whether scar caused by radiofrequency (RF) ablation of the left atrium (LA) in patients with atrial fibrillation can be depicted with high-spatial-resolution delayed enhancement magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All 23 subjects (16 men, seven women; mean age, 54 years +/- 13 [standard deviation]) provided written informed consent; the study was approved by the local institutional review board and was HIPAA compliant. A high-spatial-resolution free-breathing delayed enhancement MR imaging method was developed to detect scar (ie, ablated tissue) in the LA and pulmonary veins (PVs). The LA in 15 patients before ablation and in 18 patients at least 30 days after ablation was examined. A reader with 4 years of experience assessed presence of delayed enhancement on images and circumferential completeness. Signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios were measured and compared with an unpaired t test. The relationship between measurements of enhancement thickness at the interatrial septum and the number of days after ablation was investigated. RESULTS: No subject demonstrated preablation delayed enhancement of the atrial or PV wall, whereas postablation delayed enhancement was identified in all (100%). In patients after ablation, a partial to completely circumferential delayed enhancement pattern could be identified for the left inferior PV that encompassed 88% +/- 11 of the circumference, but only 62% of patients demonstrated more than 90% circumferential delayed enhancement. The signal-to-noise ratio of blood was 12, and the signal-to-noise ratios of the pre- and postablation left atrial wall were 15 and 22, respectively (P<.05). A relationship between delayed enhancement wall thickness and the inverse of the time interval from ablation was identified (P<.05). CONCLUSION: High-spatial-resolution delayed enhancement MR imaging allows noninvasive identification of scar induced by RF ablation following isolation therapy of the PV.