Key Questions Relating to Left Ventricular Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy: Is the Emperor Still Wearing Any Clothes?

Can J Cardiol. 2017 Jun;33(6):747-757. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2017.01.017. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


The evidence is increasing that left ventricular noncompaction cardiomyopathy as it is currently defined does not represent a failure of compaction of pre-existing trabecular myocardium found during embryonic development to form the compact component of the ventricular walls. Neither is there evidence of which we are aware to favour the notion that the entity is a return to a phenotype seen in cold-blooded animals. It is also known that when seen in adults, the presence of excessive ventricular trabeculations does not portend a poor prognosis when the ejection fraction is normal, with the risks of complications such as arrhythmia and stroke being rare in this setting. It is also the case that images of "noncompaction" as provided from children or autopsy studies are quite different from the features observed clinically in asymptomatic adults with excessive trabeculation. Our review suggests that the presence of an excessively trabeculated left ventricular wall is not in itself a clinical entity. It is equally possible that the excessive trabeculation is no more than a bystander in the presence of additional lesions such as dilated cardiomyopathy, with the additional lesions being responsible for the reduced ejection fraction bringing a given patient to clinical attention. We, therefore, argue that the term "noncompaction cardiomyopathy" is misleading, because there is neither failure of compaction nor a cardiomyopathic process in most individuals that fulfill widely used diagnostic criteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Isolated Noncompaction of the Ventricular Myocardium* / diagnosis
  • Isolated Noncompaction of the Ventricular Myocardium* / etiology
  • Isolated Noncompaction of the Ventricular Myocardium* / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*