High-Resolution Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques for the Identification of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction

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OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the ability to identify coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD) in patients with angina and nonobstructive coronary artery disease (NOCAD) using high-resolution cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) and hypothesized that quantitative perfusion techniques would have greater accuracy than visual analysis.

BACKGROUND: Half of all patients with angina are found to have NOCAD, while the presence of CMD portends greater morbidity and mortality, it now represents a modifiable therapeutic target. Diagnosis currently requires invasive assessment of coronary blood flow during angiography. With greater reliance on computed tomography coronary angiography as a first-line tool to investigate angina, noninvasive tests for diagnosing CMD warrant validation.

METHODS: Consecutive patients with angina and NOCAD were enrolled. Intracoronary pressure and flow measurements were acquired during rest and vasodilator-mediated hyperemia. CMR (3-T) was performed and analyzed by visual and quantitative techniques, including calculation of myocardial blood flow (MBF) during hyperemia (stress MBF), transmural myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR: MBFHYPEREMIA / MBFREST), and subendocardial MPR (MPRENDO). CMD was defined dichotomously as an invasive coronary flow reserve <2.5, with CMR readers blinded to this classification.

RESULTS: A total of 75 patients were enrolled (57 ± 10 years of age, 81% women). Among the quantitative perfusion indices, MPRENDO and MPR had the highest accuracy (area under the curve [AUC]: 0.90 and 0.88) with high sensitivity and specificity, respectively, both superior to visual assessment (both p < 0.001). Visual assessment identified CMD with 58% accuracy (41% sensitivity and 83% specificity). Quantitative stress MBF performed similarly to visual analysis (AUC: 0.64 vs. 0.60; p = 0.69).

CONCLUSIONS: High-resolution CMR has good accuracy at detecting CMD but only when analyzed quantitatively. Although omission of rest imaging and stress-only protocols make for quicker scans, this is at the cost of accuracy compared with integrating rest and stress perfusion. Quantitative perfusion CMR has an increasingly important role in the management of patients frequently encountered with angina and NOCAD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJACC. Cardiovascular imaging
Early online date3 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2021


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