PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare non-invasive high-spatial-resolution postmortem cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and autopsy findings for evaluating the septal insertion of atrioventricular valves in fetuses.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five fetal heart specimens including two normal hearts, one heart with complete atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) and two hearts with linear insertion of atrioventricular valves (LIAVV; gestational age 17 to 34 weeks) were studied with cardiac MRI using a 4.7 T MRI scanner without sample preparation. Three (3D) and two-dimensional (2D) turbo-RARE (rapid imaging with refocused echoes) sequences in four-chamber and left-ventricular long-axis planes were obtained with a minimal isotropic/in-plane resolution of 156μm. Nonparametric tests were performed to compare the distance between insertions of medial leaflets of the atrioventricular valves and the inlet/outlet distance ratio between MRI and autopsy findings in normal, complete AVSD and with linear insertion of atrioventricular valves (LIAVV) fetal hearts.
RESULTS: Despite apparent differences between LIAVV/normal hearts, no significant differences were found between differential insertion of medial leaflets and inlet/outlet distance ratios with both techniques. Very good to excellent reliability between both techniques was found for differential insertion (ICC: 87.2%; 95% CI: -21.7%, 99.1%) (P=0.963) and inlet/outlet distance ratio (ICC 98.3%; 95%CI: 85.2%, 99.8%) (P=0.537) measurements.
CONCLUSION: Postmortem cardiac MRI could replace autopsy for assessing normal or abnormal septal insertion of atrioventricular valves in fetuses without requiring specific preparation of the heart.