Knowledge of atrial wall thickness (AWT) has the potential to provide important information for patient stratification and the planning of interventions in atrial arrhythmias. To date, information about AWT has only been acquired in post-mortem or poor-contrast computed tomography (CT) studies, providing limited coverage and highly variable estimates of AWT. We present a novel contrast agent-free MRI sequence for imaging AWT and use it to create personalized AWT maps and a biatrial atlas. A novel black-blood phase-sensitive inversion recovery protocol was used to image ten volunteers and, as proof of concept, two atrial fibrillation patients. Both atria were manually segmented to create subject-specific AWT maps using an average of nearest neighbors approach. These were then registered non-linearly to generate an AWT atlas. AWT was 2.4 ± 0.7 and 2.7 ± 0.7 mm in the left and right atria, respectively, in good agreement with post-mortem and CT data, where available. AWT was 2.6 ± 0.7 mm in the left atrium of a patient without structural heart disease, similar to that of volunteers. In a patient with structural heart disease, the AWT was increased to 3.1 ± 1.3 mm. We successfully designed an MRI protocol to non-invasively measure AWT and create the first whole-atria AWT atlas. The atlas can be used as a reference to study alterations in thickness caused by atrial pathology. The protocol can be used to acquire personalized AWT maps in a clinical setting and assist in the treatment of atrial arrhythmias.
- Journal Article