Prominent papillary muscles in Fabry disease: a diagnostic marker?

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2011 Jan;37(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2010.10.017. Epub 2010 Nov 16.


Fabry disease is often linked with a prominent papillary muscle. It remains unknown whether this sign could be used as a diagnostic marker to screen for Fabry patients. Standard echo was performed in 101 consecutive patients with concentric left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy (28 Fabry, 30 Friedreich, 34 isolated arterial hypertension, 9 amyloidosis) and 50 healthy controls. In addition, the areas of both papillary muscles, as well as the LV endocardial circumference, were manually traced in short axis views. A ratio of papillary muscle size to LV circumference was calculated (PM_LV_ratio). The papillary muscle area was positively correlated to LV wall thickness in this cohort (p < 0.0001; r = 0.58). In all patient subgroups, the absolute papillary muscle area was significantly enlarged and the PM_LV_ratio was significantly higher when compared with controls. However, Fabry patients showed a significantly larger absolute papillary muscle area than Friedreich and amyloidosis patients and a higher PM_LV_ratio than hypertensive and amyloidosis patients. Enlarged absolute papillary muscle area was evidenced in 21 (75%), and increased PM_LV_ratio was found in 22 (78%) of 28 Fabry patients. Combining these two parameters yields a sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 86% for diagnosing Fabry disease with LV hypertrophy. Only 10 of 73 non-Fabry patients (14%) (4 Friedreich, 1 amyloidosis, 5 hypertensive) showed an increased absolute papillary muscle area and PM_LV_ratio. In conclusion, this study confirmed the assumption that the prominent papillary muscle could be an echocardiographic marker for detection of Fabry patients with concentric LV hypertrophy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Fabry Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fabry Disease / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillary Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Papillary Muscles / pathology
  • Prospective Studies