Assessment of Sub-Clinical Acute Cellular Rejection After Heart Transplantation: Comparison of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Endomyocardial Biopsy

OBJECTIVES: Comparing the diagnostic value of multi-sequential cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) with endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) for sub-clinical cardiac allograft rejection.

METHODS: One hundred and forty-six examinations in 73 patients (mean age 53 ± 12 years, 58 men) were performed using a 1.5 Tesla system and compared to EMB. Examinations included a STIR (short tau inversion recovery) sequence for calculation of edema ratio (ER), a T1-weighted spin-echo sequence for assessment of global relative enhancement (gRE), and inversion-recovery sequences to visualize late gadolinium enhancement (LGE). Histological grade ≥1B was considered relevant rejection.

RESULTS: One hundred and twenty-seven (127/146 = 87 %) EMBs demonstrated no or mild signs of rejection (grades ≤1A) and 19/146 (13 %) a relevant rejection (grade ≥1B). Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive, and negative predictive values were as follows: ER: 63 %, 78 %, 30 %, and 93 %; gRE: 63 %, 70 %, 24 %, and 93 %; LGE: 68 %, 36 %, 13 %, and 87 %; with the combination of ER and gRE with at least one out of two positive: 84 %, 57 %, 23 %, and 96 %. ROC analysis revealed an area under the curve of 0.724 for ER and 0.659 for gRE.

CONCLUSIONS: CMR parameters for myocarditis are useful to detect sub-clinical acute cellular rejection after heart transplantation. Comparable results to myocarditis can be achieved with a combination of parameters.

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PMID: 24895035

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