Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Myocarditis Reveals Persistent Disease Activity Despite Normalization of Cardiac Enzymes and Inflammatory Parameters at 3-Month Follow-Up

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There is a major unmet need to identify high-risk patients in myocarditis. Although decreasing cardiac and inflammatory markers are commonly interpreted as resolving myocarditis, this assumption has not been confirmed as of today. We sought to evaluate whether routine laboratory parameters at diagnosis predict dynamic of late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) as persistent LGE has been shown to be a risk marker in myocarditis.

Methods and Results:

Myocarditis was diagnosed based on clinical presentation, high-sensitivity troponin T, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, after exclusion of obstructive coronary artery disease by angiography. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was repeated at 3 months. LGE extent was analyzed with the software GT Volume. Change in LGE >20% was considered significant. Investigated cardiac and inflammatory markers included high-sensitivity troponin T, creatine kinase, myoglobin, N-terminal B-type natriuretic peptide, C-reactive protein, and leukocyte count. Twenty-four patients were enrolled. Absolute levels of cardiac enzymes and inflammatory markers at baseline did not predict change in LGE at 3 months. Cardiac and inflammatory markers had normalized in 21 patients (88%). LGE significantly improved in 16 patients (67%); however, it persisted to a lesser degree in 17 of them (71%) and increased in a small percentage (21%) despite normalization of cardiac enzymes.


This is the first study reporting that cardiac enzymes and inflammatory parameters do not sufficiently reflect LGE in myocarditis. Although a majority of patients with normalizing laboratory markers experienced improved LGE, in a small percentage LGE worsened. These data suggest that cardiac magnetic resonance imaging might add value to currently existing diagnostic tools for risk assessment in myocarditis.

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