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The role of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in the assessment of systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE)
© Norman et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
- Published: 28 January 2009
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance
- Late Gadolinium Enhancement
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging
To define the cardiac magnetic resonance (MR) appearances of cardiac disease in patients with SLE and known coronary or cerebrovascular disease, and compare theses findings with those seen on trans-thoracic echocardiography (TTE).
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with SLE. It is increasingly recognised that accelerated atherosclerosis contributes to increased risk of myocardial ischaemia and/or stroke in this population. Autopsy and echo studies have documented numerous abnormalities in patients with SLE; however it remains unclear whether these abnormalities are an important contributor to mortality and morbidity, and whether they are related to early development of coronary artery disease.
Cardiac MR assessment including late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) was performed on 22 patients meeting 4 or more of the revised ACR criteria for SLE. Imaging performed at 1.5 T (Avanto, Siemens, Erlangen, Germany). 11 patients had previous CVD and were matched with 11 control patients with no history of CVD. Control patients were matched for age, gender, race and SLE disease duration. TTE was performed at the same visit. The Research Ethics Committee approved the study and all participants gave informed consent to take part.
One subject, with known antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) but no history of CVD, had LGE suggestive of a previous infarct (Figure 1c). This was not evident on TTE. One patient purported to have had a myocardial infarction had no LGE. TTE myocardial abnormalities were detected on 4 of the 6 subjects that had LGE.
In this small study, we demonstrate that cardiac MR can detect changes in the myocardium of patients with SLE that are not evident on TTE. The 2 imaging modalities were carried out on the same day to avoid the possibility of new abnormalities developing between the dates of the MR and TTE. Three of the 22 patients we studied (14%) had diagnostic MR scans that could potentially influence their long-term management and prognosis. Two patients with no clinical history of cardiac disease had areas of unexpected myocardial fibrosis, one with a pattern suggestive of coronary artery disease, and one with multiple areas of myocardial scarring, perhaps suggestive of myocarditis. Both these patients had normal TTE. Conversely, 1 patient with a supposed acute myocardial infarction had no evidence of myocardial fibrosis on MR scanning, placing this patient in a good prognostic group for the future. Further studies of cardiac MR in patients with SLE are warranted to investigate these preliminary findings.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.