Cardiac computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging provide clinicians with important insights into cardiac physiology and pathology. However, not all radiologists understand the language and concepts of cardiac physiology that are used daily by cardiologists. This review article covers basic cardiac physiology as it relates to cardiac CT and MR imaging. Topics include a review of the cardiac cycle and left ventricular pressure-volume loops as they relate to different pathologic states, evaluation of cardiac function, and calculation of key parameters such as left ventricular volumes and the ejection fraction. The hemodynamics of cardiac shunts are covered, with an emphasis on factors important to cardiologists, including the ratio of pulmonary flow to systemic flow. Additionally, valvular physiologic function is reexamined, with a focus on understanding pressure gradients within the heart and also the changes associated with valvular pathologic conditions, including measurement of regurgitant fractions in patients with valvular insufficiency. Understanding these basic concepts will help radiologists tailor the reporting of cardiac studies to clinically relevant information. Online supplemental material is available for this article.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging