Cardiovascular magnetic resonance and single-photon emission computed tomography for diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CE-MARC): a prospective trial

Lancet. 2012 Feb 4;379(9814):453-60. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61335-4. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Background: In patients with suspected coronary heart disease, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is the most widely used test for the assessment of myocardial ischaemia, but its diagnostic accuracy is reported to be variable and it exposes patients to ionising radiation. The aim of this study was to establish the diagnostic accuracy of a multiparametric cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) protocol with x-ray coronary angiography as the reference standard, and to compare CMR with SPECT, in patients with suspected coronary heart disease.

Methods: In this prospective trial patients with suspected angina pectoris and at least one cardiovascular risk factor were scheduled for CMR, SPECT, and invasive x-ray coronary angiography. CMR consisted of rest and adenosine stress perfusion, cine imaging, late gadolinium enhancement, and MR coronary angiography. Gated adenosine stress and rest SPECT used (99m)Tc tetrofosmin. The primary outcome was diagnostic accuracy of CMR. This trial is registered at, number ISRCTN77246133.

Findings: In the 752 recruited patients, 39% had significant CHD as identified by x-ray angiography. For multiparametric CMR the sensitivity was 86·5% (95% CI 81·8-90·1), specificity 83·4% (79·5-86·7), positive predictive value 77·2%, (72·1-81·6) and negative predictive value 90·5% (87·1-93·0). The sensitivity of SPECT was 66·5% (95% CI 60·4-72·1), specificity 82·6% (78·5-86·1), positive predictive value 71·4% (65·3-76·9), and negative predictive value 79·1% (74·8-82·8). The sensitivity and negative predictive value of CMR and SPECT differed significantly (p<0·0001 for both) but specificity and positive predictive value did not (p=0·916 and p=0·061, respectively).

Interpretation: CE-MARC is the largest, prospective, real world evaluation of CMR and has established CMR's high diagnostic accuracy in coronary heart disease and CMR's superiority over SPECT. It should be adopted more widely than at present for the investigation of coronary heart disease.

Funding: British Heart Foundation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine
  • Contrast Media
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Adenosine

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN77246133