Myocardial extracellular volume (ECV) is elevated in fibrosis or infiltration and can be quantified by measuring the haematocrit with pre and post contrast T1 at sufficient contrast equilibrium. Equilibrium CMR (EQ-CMR), using a bolus-infusion protocol, has been shown to provide robust measurements of ECV using a multibreath-hold T1 pulse sequence. Newer, faster sequences for T1 mapping promise whole heart coverage and improved clinical utility, but have not been validated.
Multibreathhold T1 quantification with heart rate correction and single breath-hold T1 mapping using Shortened Modified Look-Locker Inversion recovery (ShMOLLI) were used in equilibrium contrast CMR to generate ECV values and compared in 3 ways.
Firstly, both techniques were compared in a spectrum of disease with variable ECV expansion (n=100, 50 healthy volunteers, 12 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, 18 with severe aortic stenosis, 20 with amyloid). Secondly, both techniques were correlated to human histological collagen volume fraction (CVF%, n=18, severe aortic stenosis biopsies). Thirdly, an assessment of test:retest reproducibility of the 2 CMR techniques was performed 1 week apart in individuals with widely different ECVs (n=10 healthy volunteers, n=7 amyloid patients).
More patients were able to perform ShMOLLI than the multibreath-hold technique (6% unable to breath-hold). ECV calculated by multibreath-hold T1 and ShMOLLI showed strong correlation (r2=0.892), little bias (bias -2.2%, 95%CI -8.9% to 4.6%) and good agreement (ICC 0.922, range 0.802 to 0.961, p<0.0001). ECV correlated with histological CVF% by multibreath-hold ECV (r2= 0.589) but better by ShMOLLI ECV (r2= 0.685). Inter-study reproducibility demonstrated that ShMOLLI ECV trended towards greater reproducibility than the multibreath-hold ECV, although this did not reach statistical significance (95%CI -4.9% to 5.4% versus 95%CI -6.4% to 7.3% respectively, p=0.21).
ECV quantification by single breath-hold ShMOLLI T1 mapping can measure ECV by EQ-CMR across the spectrum of interstitial expansion. It is procedurally better tolerated, slightly more reproducible and better correlates with histology compared to the older multibreath-hold FLASH techniques.