Cardiac MRI: a central prognostic tool in myocardial fibrosis

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Abstract

Fibrotic remodelling of the extracellular matrix is a healing mechanism necessary immediately after myocardial injury. However, prolonged increase in myocardial fibrotic activity results in stiffening of the myocardium and heralds adverse outcomes related to systolic and diastolic dysfunction, as well as arrhythmogenesis. Cardiac MRI provides a noninvasive phenotyping tool for accurate and easy detection and quantification of myocardial fibrosis by probing the retention of gadolinium-contrast agent in myocardial tissue. Late-gadolinium enhancement (LGE) cardiac MRI has been used extensively in a large number of studies for measurement of myocardial scarring. T1 mapping, a fairly new technique that can be used to identify the exact T1 value of the tissue, provides a direct measurement of the extracellular volume fraction of the myocardium. In contrast to LGE, T1 mapping can be used to measure diffuse myocardial fibrosis and differentiate between disease processes. In this Review, we describe the basic principles of imaging myocardial fibrosis using contrast-enhanced MRI and summarize its use for prognostic purposes.

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