Myocardial strain analysis by cardiac magnetic resonance 3D feature-tracking identifies subclinical abnormalities in patients with neuromuscular disease and no overt cardiac involvement

Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is valuable for the detection of cardiac involvement in neuromuscular diseases (NMDs). The authors explored the value of 2D- and 3D-left ventricular (LV) myocardial strain analysis using feature-tracking (FT)-CMR to detect subclinical cardiac involvement in NMD. The study included retrospective analysis of 111 patients with NMD; mitochondrial cytopathies (n = 14), Friedreich's ataxia (FA, n = 27), myotonic dystrophy (n = 27), Becker/Duchenne's muscular dystrophy (BMD/DMD, n = 15), Duchenne's carriers (n = 6), or other (n = 22) and 57 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Biventricular volumes, myocardial late gadolinium enhancement (LGE), and LV myocardial deformation were assessed by FT-CMR, including 2D and 3D global circumferential strain (GCS), global radial strain (GRS), global longitudinal strain (GLS), and torsion. Compared with the healthy volunteers, patients with NMD had impaired 2D-GCS (P < 0.001) and 2D-GRS (in the short-axis, P < 0.001), but no significant differences in 2D-GRS long-axis (P = 0.101), 2D-GLS (P = 0.069), or torsion (P = 0.122). 3D-GRS, 3D-GCS, and 3D-GLS values were all significantly different to the control group (P < 0.0001 for all). Especially, even NMD patients without overt cardiac involvement (i.e. LV dilation/hypertrophy, reduced LVEF, or LGE presence) had significantly impaired 3D-GRS, GCS, and GLS vs. the control group (P < 0.0001). 3D-GRS and GCS values were significantly associated with the LGE presence and pattern, being most impaired in patients with transmural LGE. 3D-FT CMR detects subclinical cardiac muscle disease in patients with NMD even before the development of replacement fibrosis or ventricular remodelling which may be a useful imaging biomarker for early detection of cardiac involvement.

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