The dimensions of the pulmonary veins are important parameters when planning pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), especially with the cryoballoon ablation technique. Acknowledging the dimensions and anatomical variations of the pulmonary veins (PVs) may improve the outcome of the intervention. Conventional 2D transoesophageal echocardiography can only provide limited data about the dimensions of the PVs; however, 3D echocardiography can further evaluate relevant diameters and areas of the PVs, as well as their spatial relationship to surrounding structures. In previous literature data, parameters influencing the success rate of PVI have already been identified. These are the left lateral ridge, the intervenous ridge, the ostial area of the PVs and the ovality index of the ostium. Proper imaging of the PVs by 3D echocardiography is a technically challenging method. One crucial step is the collection of images. Three individual transducer positions are necessary to visualize the important structures; these are the left lateral ridge, the ostium of the PVs and the intervenous ridge of the left and right PVs. Next, 3D images are acquired and saved as digital loops. These datasets are cropped, which result in the en face views displaying spatial relationships. This step can also be employed to determine the anatomical variations of the PVs. Finally, multiplanar reconstructions are created to measure each individual parameter of the PVs.
Optimal quality and orientation of the acquired images are paramount for the appropriate assessment of PV anatomy. In the present work, we examined the 3D visibility of the PVs and the suitability of the above method in 80 patients. The aim was to provide a detailed outline of the essential steps and potential pitfalls of PV visualization and assessment with 3D echocardiography.