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Cardiac MRI identifies the possible cause of sudden cardiac arrest in more than 50% of resuscitated patients


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) results from malignant ventricular arrhythmias that may be due to myocardial ischemia, infarct, edema, fibrosis or infiltration. The underlying cause is often unknown. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) may provide structural and functional data and identify myocardial ischemia, inflammation and fibrofatty infiltration.

This study determines the diagnostic ability of CMR in SCA of unknown cause.


Seventy-six patients with SCA of unknown cause underwent CMR. The results were adjudicated into either non-diagnostic (no convincing cause identified) or diagnostic CMR.


Of the 76 CMR studies, 41 (52%) demonstrated potentially causative pathology for SCA. Of these 41 patients- 11 (14%) had recent ischemia or major LV wall motion defects, 7 (9%) had myocarditis, 6 (7%) had arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) per modified task-force criteria, 5 (6%) had LV intramyocardial fibrosis, 7 (9%) had severe cardiomyopathy (LVEF of <40%), and 5 (6%) had abundant RV fat. No potential cause for SCA was identified in 35 (46%) patients.


CMR can identify otherwise undetected possible etiologies of SCA in more than half of resuscitated patients.


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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Sharma, U.C., Kharel, N., Lee, Y.S. et al. Cardiac MRI identifies the possible cause of sudden cardiac arrest in more than 50% of resuscitated patients. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson 15 (Suppl 1), P254 (2013).

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