Diagnosis of left-ventricular non-compaction in patients with left-ventricular systolic dysfunction: time for a reappraisal of diagnostic criteria?

Eur Heart J. 2008 Jan;29(1):89-95. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehm481. Epub 2007 Nov 9.


Aims: Left-ventricular non-compaction (LVNC) is characterized by excessive and prominent left-ventricular (LV) trabeculations and may be associated with systolic dysfunction in advanced disease. We sought to determine the proportion of patients fulfilling LVNC criteria in an adult population referred to a heart failure clinic using current diagnostic criteria.

Methods and results: One hundred and ninety-nine patients [age 63.5 +/- 15.9 years, 124 (62.3%) males] with LV systolic impairment were studied. All underwent clinical examination, electrocardiography, and 2-D echocardiography. The number of patients fulfilling diagnostic criteria for LVNC was retrospectively determined using three published definitions. Results were compared with 60 prospectively evaluated normal controls (age 35.7 +/- 13.5 years; 31 males, 30 blacks). Forty-seven patients (23.6%) fulfilled one or more echocardiographic definitions for LVNC. Patients fulfilling LVNC criteria were younger (P = 0.002), had larger LV end-diastolic dimension (P < 0.001), and smaller left atrial size (P = 0.01). LVNC was more common in black individuals (35.5 vs. 16.2%, P = 0.003). Five controls (four blacks) fulfilled one or more LVNC criteria.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates an unexpectedly high percentage of patients with heart failure fulfilling current echocardiographic criteria for LVNC. This might be explained by a hitherto underestimated cause of heart failure, but the comparison with controls suggests that current diagnostic criteria are too sensitive, particularly in black individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal / standards
  • Electrocardiography / standards
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / diagnosis*