Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Noninvasive Detection with Phase-Contrast MR Imaging

Purpose: To retrospectively identify pulmonary arterial (PA) flow parameters measured with phase-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging that allow noninvasive diagnosis of chronic PA hypertension (PAH).

Materials and Methods: The study was HIPAA compliant and was approved by the institutional review board; a waiver of informed consent was obtained. Fifty-nine patients (49 female patients; mean age, 46 years; range, 16–85 years) known to have or suspected of having PAH underwent breath-hold phase-contrast MR imaging and right-sided heart catheterization (RHC). The presence of PAH (mean pulmonary artery pressure [mPAP], >25 mm Hg) was confirmed in 42 patients. Parameters, including PA areas, PA strain, average velocity, peak velocity, acceleration time, and ejection time, were measured in each patient by investigators blinded to RHC results. These measurements were correlated with mPAP, systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP), and pulmonary vascular resistance index (PVRI). The diagnostic ability of phase-contrast MR imaging to depict PAH was quantified. Statistical tests included Spearman ρ coefficients, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, and Bland-Altman plots.

Results: Results showed average velocity to have the best correlation with mPAP, sPAP, and PVRI (r = −0.73, −0.76, and −0.86, respectively; P < .001). Average velocity (cutoff value = 11.7 cm/sec) revealed PAH with a sensitivity of 92.9% (39 of 42) and a specificity of 82.4% (14 of 17). Sensitivity and specificity for the minimum PA area (cutoff value = 6.6 cm2) were 92.9% (39 of 42) and 88.2% (15 of 17), respectively.

Conclusion: The average blood velocity throughout the cardiac cycle is strongly correlated with pulmonary pressures and resistance.

© RSNA, 2007


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Article History

Published in print: 2007