OBJECTIVES:We evaluated the effectiveness of contrast-enhanced cardiac magnetic resonance (CE-CMR) in detecting chronic myocarditis (CM).BACKGROUND:Chronic myocarditis represents a common evolution of acute myocarditis. Although CE-CMR has been revealed to be effective in identifying areas of myocardial damage in acute myocarditis, its role in the diagnosis of chronic myocardial inflammation has not yet been investigated.METHODS:Twenty-three patients with CM underwent CE-CMR and endomyocardial biopsy (EMB). Chronic myocarditis was defined by the presence of: 1) chronic (>6 months) heart failure symptoms and/or repetitive ventricular arrhythmias; 2) no history of recent flu-like symptoms or infections; and 3) histologic evidence of active myocarditis (AM) or borderline myocarditis (BM) according to Dallas criteria. Contrast-enhanced cardiac magnetic resonance included black-blood T2-weighted (BBT2w) images without and with fat saturation and delayed three-dimensional T1 turbo field-echo inversion-recovery sequences obtained 15 min after gadolinium injection.RESULTS:Histology showed AM in 14 patients and BM in 9 patients. FatSat BBT2w revealed the presence of edema in five (36%) patients with AM but not in BM patients. Areas of late enhancement (LE) were observed in 12 (84%) subjects with AM and in 4 (44%) cases with BM. A mid-wall LE pattern was the most frequent finding in both groups while a subepicardial distribution of LE was observed only in patients with AM.CONCLUSIONS:Contrast-enhanced cardiac magnetic resonance identified areas of myocardial inflammation in up to 70% of patients with biopsy-proven CM. We suggest that CE-CMR may be a useful non-invasive diagnostic tool in patients with CM, and it may indicate and even guide the execution of left ventricular EMB with relevant prognostic and therapeutic implications.
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