Oedema-fibrosis in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Role of cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging

Eur J Clin Invest. 2017 Dec;47(12). doi: 10.1111/eci.12843. Epub 2017 Oct 31.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked muscle disorder characterized by progressive, irreversible loss of cardiac and skeletal muscular function. Muscular enlargement in DMD is attributed to oedema, due to the increased cytoplasmic Na+ concentration. The aim of this review was to present the current experience and emphasize the role of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in the diagnosis of this condition. DMD patients' survival depends on ventilatory assistance, as respiratory muscle dysfunction was the most common cause of death in the past. Currently, due to improved ventilatory assistance, cardiomyopathy has become the main cause of death, even though clinically overt heart failure may be absent. CMR is the technique of choice to assess the pathophysiologic phenomena taking place in DMD, such as myocardial oedema and subepicardial fibrosis. The classic index to assess oedema is the T2-weighted short-tau inversion recovery (T2w-STIR), as it suppresses the signal from flowing blood and resident fat and enhances sensitivity to tissue fluid. Furthermore, CMR is the most reliable technique to detect and quantify fibrosis in DMD. Recently, the new indices T2, T1 mapping (native and postcontrast) and the extracellular volume (ECV) allow a more accurate approach of myocardial oedema and fibrosis. To conclude, the assessment of cardiac oedema and subepicardial fibrosis in the inferolateral wall of the left heart ventricle are the most important early finding in DMD with preserved ventricular function, and CMR, using both the classic and the new indices, is the best technique to detect and monitor these lesions.

Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Imaging Techniques
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Edema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Edema / etiology
  • Extracellular Space
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / complications
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myocardium / pathology*