Cardiac 123I-MIBG Imaging for Clinical Decision Making: 22-Year Experience in Japan

J Nucl Med. 2015 Jun:56 Suppl 4:11S-19S. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.114.142794.


Cardiac neuroimaging with (123)I-metaiodobenzylguanidine ((123)I-MIBG) has been officially used in clinical practice in Japan since 1992. The nuclear cardiology guidelines of the Japanese Circulation Society, revised in 2010, recommended cardiac (123)I-MIBG imaging for the management of heart failure (HF) patients, particularly for the assessment of HF severity and prognosis of HF patients. Consensus in North American and European countries regarding incorporation into clinical practice, however, has not been established yet. This article summarizes 22 y of clinical applications in Japan of (123)I-MIBG imaging in the field of cardiology; these applications are reflected in cardiology guidelines, including recent methodologic advances. A standardized cardiac (123)I-MIBG parameter, the heart-to-mediastinum ratio (HMR), is the basis for clinical decision making and enables common use of parameters beyond differences in institutions and studies. Several clinical studies unanimously demonstrated its potent independent roles in prognosis evaluation and risk stratification irrespective of HF etiologies. An HMR of less than 1.6-1.8 and an accelerated washout rate are recognized as high-risk indicators of pump failure death, sudden cardiac death, and fatal arrhythmias and have independent and incremental prognostic values together with known clinical variables, such as left ventricular ejection fraction and brain natriuretic peptide. Another possible use of this imaging technique is the selection of therapeutic strategy, such as pharmacologic treatment and nonpharmacologic treatment with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator or cardiac resynchronization device; however, this possibility remains to be investigated. Recent multiple-cohort database analyses definitively demonstrated that patients who were at low risk for lethal events and who were defined by an HMR of greater than 2.0 on (123)I-MIBG studies had a good long-term prognosis. Future investigations of cardiac (123)I-MIBG imaging will contribute to better risk stratification of low-risk and high-risk populations, to the establishment of cost-effective use of this imaging technique for the management of HF patients, and to worldwide acceptance of this imaging technique in clinical cardiology practice.

Keywords: 123I-MIBG; heart failure; prognosis; risk stratification; scintigraphic technique.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine*
  • Cardiology / methods
  • Cardiology / standards
  • Decision Making
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Societies, Medical
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine