Non-contrast free-breathing 3D cardiovascular magnetic resonance angiography using REACT (relaxation-enhanced angiography without contrast) compared to contrast-enhanced steady-state magnetic resonance angiography in complex pediatric congenital heart disease at 3T


To evaluate the great vessels in young children with complex congenital heart disease (CHD) using non-contrast cardiovascular magnetic resonance angiography (CMRA) based on three-dimensional relaxation-enhanced angiography without contrast (REACT) in comparison to contrast-enhanced steady-state CMRA.


In this retrospective study from April to July 2021, respiratory- and electrocardiogram-gated native REACT CMRA was compared to contrast-enhanced single-phase steady-state CMRA in children with CHD who underwent CMRA at 3T under deep sedation. Vascular assessment included image quality (1 = non-diagnostic, 5 = excellent), vessel diameter, and diagnostic findings. For statistical analysis, paired t-test, Pearson correlation, Bland-Altman analysis, Wilcoxon test, and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were applied.


Thirty-six young children with complex CHD (median 4 years, interquartile range, 2-5; 20 males) were included. Native REACT CMRA was obtained successfully in all patients (mean scan time: 4:22 ± 1:44 min). For all vessels assessed, diameters correlated strongly between both methods (Pearson r = 0.99; bias = 0.04 ± 0.61 mm) with high interobserver reproducibility (ICC: 0.99 for both CMRAs). Native REACT CMRA demonstrated comparable overall image quality to contrast-enhanced CMRA (3.9 ± 1.0 vs. 3.8 ± 0.9, P = 0.018). With REACT CMRA, better image quality was obtained at the ascending aorta (4.8 ± 0.5 vs. 4.3 ± 0.8, P < 0.001), coronary roots (e.g., left: 4.1 ± 1.0 vs. 3.3 ± 1.1, P = 0.001), and inferior vena cava (4.6 ± 0.5 vs. 3.2 ± 0.8, P < 0.001). In all patients, additional vascular findings were assessed equally with native REACT CMRA and the contrast-enhanced reference standard (n = 6).


In young children with complex CHD, REACT CMRA can provide gadolinium-free high image quality, accurate vascular measurements, and equivalent diagnostic quality compared to standard contrast-enhanced CMRA.


Cardiovascular magnetic resonance angiography; Gadolinium-free; Non-contrast; Pediatric congenital heart disease; Relaxation-enhanced angiography without contrast.

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