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J Nucl Cardiol. 1994 Nov-Dec;1(6):546-60.

Cardiac metabolism: a technical spectrum of modalities including positron emission tomography, single-photon emission computed tomography, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Leiden, The Netherlands.


Noninvasive techniques for the assessment of cardiac metabolism are important for the detection of potentially salvageable tissue in jeopardized areas of the myocardium. The correct identification of hibernating and stunned myocardium in patients with severely depressed cardiac function can have vital therapeutic consequences for the patient. Changes in myocardial fatty acid and glucose metabolism during acute and prolonged ischemia can be traced by positron-emitting or gamma-emitting radiopharmaceuticals. Alternatively, 31P-labeled magnetic resonance spectroscopy can be used for the assessment of high-energy phosphate metabolism. It is not yet clear which modality will emerge as the most useful in the clinical setting. Positron emission tomography (PET) that uses combinations of flow tracers and metabolic tracers offers unique opportunities for quantification and high-resolution static and rapid dynamic studies. Currently, assessment of glucose metabolism with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose is regarded as the gold standard for myocardial viability and prediction of improvement of impaired contractile function after revascularization. However, preserved oxidative metabolism may be required for potential functional improvement, and therefore assessment of residual oxidative metabolism by 11C-labeled acetate PET may prove to be more accurate than 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET, which reflects both anaerobic and oxidative metabolism. Moreover, because fatty acids are metabolized only aerobically, they are excellent candidates for the clinical assessment of myocardial viability and prediction of functional improvement after revascularization. Especially derivatives of fatty acids that are not metabolized but accumulate in the myocyte are attractive for myocardial imaging. Examples are 123I-beta-methyl-p-iodophenyl pentadecanoic acid and 15-(o-123I-phenyl)-pentadecanoic acid. These tracers can be detected by planar scintigraphy and single-photon emission computed tomography, which are more economical and widely available than PET. In addition, 511 keV collimators have been developed recently, making the detection of positron emitters by planar scintigraphy and single-photon emission computed tomography feasible. The experience with 31P-labeled magnetic resonance spectroscopy in humans is still limited. With current magnetic resonance spectroscopic techniques, insufficient spatial resolution is achieved for clinical purposes, but the possibility of serial measurements to monitor rapid changes of phosphate-containing molecules in time makes magnetic resonance spectroscopy very valuable for the research of myocardial metabolism.

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