Background: Left ventricular (LV) torsion is an important indicator of cardiac function that is limited by high inter-test variability (50% of the mean value). We hypothesized that this high inter-test variability is partly due to inconsistent breath-hold positions during serial image acquisitions, which could be significantly improved by using a respiratory navigator for cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) based quantification of LV torsion.

Methods: We assessed respiratory-related variability in measured LV torsion with two distinct experimental protocols. First, 17 volunteers were recruited for CMR with cine displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE) in which a respiratory navigator was used to measure and then enforce variability in end-expiratory position between all LV basal and apical acquisitions. From these data, we quantified the inter-test variability of torsion in the absence and presence of enforced end-expiratory position variability, which established an upper bound for the expected torsion variability. For the second experiment (in 20 new, healthy volunteers), 10 pairs of cine DENSE basal and apical images were each acquired from consecutive breath-holds and consecutive navigator-gated scans (with a single acceptance position). Inter-test variability of torsion was compared between the breath-hold and navigator-gated scans to quantify the variability due to natural breath-hold variation. To demonstrate the importance of these variability reductions, we quantified the reduction in sample size required to detect a clinically meaningful change in LV torsion with the use of a respiratory navigator.

Results: The mean torsion was 3.4 ± 0.2°/cm. From the first experiment, enforced variability in end-expiratory position translated to considerable variability in measured torsion (0.56 ± 0.34°/cm), whereas inter-test variability with consistent end-expiratory position was 57% lower (0.24 ± 0.16°/cm, p < 0.001). From the second experiment, natural respiratory variability from consecutive breath-holds translated to a variability in torsion of 0.24 ± 0.10°/cm, which was significantly higher than the variability from navigator-gated scans (0.18 ± 0.06°/cm, p = 0.02). By using a respiratory navigator with DENSE, theoretical sample sizes were reduced from 66 to 16 and 26 to 15 as calculated from the two experiments.

Conclusions: A substantial portion (22-57%) of the inter-test variability of LV torsion can be reduced by using a respiratory navigator to ensure a consistent breath-hold position between image acquisitions.

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Published in Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, v. 19, 25, p. 1-9.

© The Author(s). 2017

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This work was supported by a National Institute of Health (NIH) Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5 OD-012132), a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science (P20 GM103527) of the National Institutes of Health, a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein fellowship (NIH 1F31HL126403), and grant UL1TR000117 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), funded by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health and supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.