Technology insight: assessment of myocardial viability by delayed-enhancement magnetic resonance imaging.
Myocardial viability is of established importance to the management of cardiac patients being considered for revascularization. Existing noninvasive imaging tests to examine myocardial viability, such as stress echocardiography and nuclear scintigraphy, are of recognized utility but are subject to intrinsic limitations. Over the past few years delayed-enhancement MRI (DE-MRI) has emerged as an alternative to traditional tests and for the first time allows direct visualization of the transmural extent of myocardial viability. In this paper we review the scientific data that underlie the use of DE-MRI in patients with ischemic heart disease. Progress in this area is largely the result of the development of a new MRI pulse sequence in the late 1990s, which improved the detection of necrotic and scarred myocardial tissue. Following this technical development, a series of detailed histologic comparisons in large animal models revealed that both acute and healed myocardial infarcts appeared as brighter (hyperenhanced) areas than viable regions, and that the effect is independent of contractile function. The resulting 'bright is dead' hypothesis has thus far proven of significant use in patients with ischemic heart disease. Data are now emerging which suggest that the DE-MRI technique also has important implications for patients with nonischemic forms of cardiomyopathy.
Judd, RM; Wagner, A; Rehwald, WG; Albert, T; Kim, RJ
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