Relation of thallium uptake to morphologic features of chronic ischemic heart disease: Evidence for myocardial remodeling in noninfarcted myocardium

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Journal of the American College of Cardiology


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the disparity between the extent of myocardial injury as assessed by thallium and the severity of left ventricular (LV) dysfunction in chronic ischemic heart disease. BACKGROUND: Although it is believed that thallium differentiates between viable and nonviable myocardium, in some patients with chronic ischemic heart disease, viable regions by thallium may fail to improve function after revascularization. METHODS: Thirteen transplant candidates with chronic ischemic heart disease (LV ejection fraction = 14 ± 6% at rest) were studied prospectively with stress-redistribution-reinjection thallium single-photon emission computed tomography. We examined pretransplantation quantitative thallium uptake and post-transplantation extent and the histological distribution of collagen replacement in infarcted and noninfarcted myocardium and in 13 age-matched control hearts. RESULTS: The volume fraction of collagen varied inversely with wall thickness (r = -0.70, p < 0.001) and was higher in irreversible (30.9 ± 15.8%) compared with reversible (20.2 ± 12.6%, p < 0.001) or normal thallium segments (15.0 ± 8.7%, p < 0.001). The irreversible thallium segments had lower wall thickness and more severe coronary artery narrowing (9.7 ± 2.8 mm and 95 ± 8%) compared with reversible (11.7 ± 2.7 mm and 87 ± 13%, p < 0.001) and normal thallium segments (12.8 ± 2.6 mm and 80 ± 14%, p < 0.001). Mean volume fraction of collagen was significantly lower in noninfarcted than it was in infarcted segments (13 ± 6% vs. 36 ± 13%, p ± 0.001) but exceeded that in the control hearts (4 ± 2%, p < 0.001). Noninfarcted segments had predominantly interstitial fibrosis with either microscopic or patchy areas of replacement fibrosis. CONCLUSIONS: In chronic ischemic heart disease with severe LV dysfunction, patterns of normal, reversible and irreversible thallium uptake correlated with the magnitude of collagen replacement, segmental wall thickness and severity of coronary artery narrowing. The finding of scattered areas of replacement fibrosis in noninfarcted myocardium may explain the observed disparity between LV contractile dysfunction and the extent of myocardial injury assessed by thallium. © 2001 American College of Cardiology.

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