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Circulation. 2003 Jul 8;108(1):54-9. Epub 2003 Jun 23.

Differentiation of heart failure related to dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease using gadolinium-enhanced cardiovascular magnetic resonance.

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  • 1Center for Advanced MR in Cardiology, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK.



Heart failure treatment depends partly on the underlying cause of the disease. We evaluated cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) for the problem of differentiating dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) from left ventricular (LV) dysfunction caused by coronary artery disease (CAD).


Late gadolinium enhancement with CMR was performed in 90 patients with heart failure and LV systolic dysfunction (63 patients with DCM and unobstructed coronary arteries and 27 with significant CAD at angiography). We also studied 15 control subjects with no coronary risk factors and/or unobstructed coronary arteries. None (0%) of the control subjects had myocardial gadolinium enhancement; however, all patients (100%) with LV dysfunction and CAD had enhancement, which was subendocardial or transmural. In patients with DCM, there were 3 findings: no enhancement (59%); myocardial enhancement indistinguishable from the patients with CAD (13%); and patchy or longitudinal striae of midwall enhancement clearly different from the distribution in patients with CAD (28%).


Gadolinium CMR is a powerful technique to distinguish DCM from LV dysfunction related to CAD and yields new insights in DCM. These data suggest that using the coronary angiogram as the arbiter for the presence of LV dysfunction caused by CAD could have lead to an incorrect assignment of DCM cause in 13% of patients, possibly because of coronary recanalization after infarction. The midwall myocardial enhancement in patients with DCM is similar to the fibrosis found at autopsy; it has not previously been visualized in vivo and warrants further investigation. CMR may become a useful alternative to routine coronary angiography in the diagnostic workup of DCM.

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