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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Oct;45 Suppl 4:iv26-31.

Cardiac imaging in rheumatic diseases.

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  • 1Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, University Clinical Center of Serbia, Koste Todorovića 8, Belgrade, Serbia.


The majority of the imaging techniques in cardiology could be applied in rheumatic diseases (RDs), such as echocardiography, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), radionuclide ventriculography, angiography, cardiovascular MRI and CT. Inflammatory pericardial involvement is the most common cardiac manifestation in various forms of RD. Echocardiography is the gold standard for diagnosis of pericardial abnormalities, demonstrating location and amount of pericardial effusion. Cardiac MRI and CT can be used to assess the features of pericardial effusions and pericardial structures. In patients with valvular heart disease in RD, transoesophageal echocardiography is a superior method and offers reliable information about valve morphology, the severity of the disease and left ventricular (LV) function. In addition, cardiac MRI is a valuable tool for the evaluation of valvular stenosis and regurgitation severity. Myocardial involvement in RD is demonstrated by abnormalities in LV size and function, indicating myocardial inflammation. In these patients Doppler echocardiography and myocardial tissue imaging can provide essential diagnostic information. Both LV angiography and cardiac MRI can provide reliable information on LV size, function and mass. In patients with coronary disease associated with RD, LV ejection fraction and ventricular wall motion can be assessed by echocardiography, radionuclide ventriculography, gated SPECT and MRI. Three-dimensional (3D) echocardiography is considered superior to 2D echocardiographic techniques. Stress echocardiography is the most used method for detection of myocardial ischaemia. The only accurate visualization of the coronary arteries is by selective coronary arteriography, which remains the gold standard. Although new non-invasive techniques have been developed, including CT and MRI angiography, some limitations apply.

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