resonance angiography (MRA) using segmented k-space fast low-angle shot imaging has recently been used to demonstrate the proximal coronary arteries in healthy subjects and in patients with coronary artery disease. We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of coronary MRA in heart transplant recipients and investigated the feasibility of coronary MRA in patients with metallic sutures and clips in the chest.
Materials and methods
Sixteen cardiac transplant patients aged 57.2 ± 7.9 years (mean ± SD) were recruited. Forty-eight arterial segments were evaluated, including the left main artery (LMA), left anterior descending artery (LADA) and right coronary artery (RCA). We excluded the left circumflex artery which could not be imaged accurately. The average time between heart transplant operation and MRA was 6 years, whereas that between MRA and X-ray angiography was 4 months. The coronary MRA was interpreted by two experienced investigators who were blinded to the coronary X-ray angiography results. Similarly, the coronary X-ray angiography results were interpreted by two experienced investigators blinded to the MRA results. The coronary arterial segments were classified by MRA as being normal or as having an amount of disease that was significant (> 50% lesion) or insignificant (< 50% lesion).
There were 28 true-negative, five true-positive, four false-negative and six false-positive results. Of the 28 true-negative cases, 13 were in the LMA, six in the LADA and nine in the RCA. There was one false-positive LMA, two false-positive LADA and three false-positive RCA stenoses. There were four false-negative results in the LADA and one in the RCA. Clips precluded evaluation in one LMA, one LADA and one RCA. One LMA and one LADA were not evaluated as a result of poor images. One false-positive RCA stenosis was caused by a metallic clip. Three of the false-negative LADA stenoses had lesions in the distal third of the artery. The sensitivity, specificity, negative and positive predictive values were generally poor for the left coronary artery. The best results were for the RCA (sensitivity 100%, specificity 75%, positive predictive value 50% and negative predictive value 100%). The specificity in the left coronary arteries (LMA and LADA) was 86%, but the other indicators were all poorer. For the RCA, LMA and LADA combined, the overall sensitivity was 56%, specificity 82%, predictive accuracy 45% and negative predictive value 88%. In three patients, < 50% RCA lesions were seen in the MRA data, which were all confirmed by angiography. No < 50% lesions were seen in the LMA or in the LADA by MRA or by X-ray angiography.
Coronary MRA using the segmented fast low-angle shot technique is feasible in heart transplant recipients but the sensitivity and specificity of this method are limited. Further developments in coil design, rapid imaging techniques and respiratory monitoring methods are necessary to improve the accuracy of coronary MRA.
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