Myocardial Tissue Characterization and Fibrosis by Imaging

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2020 May;13(5):1221-1234. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2019.06.030. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Myocardial fibrosis, either focal or diffuse, is a common feature of many cardiac diseases and is associated with a poor prognosis for major adverse cardiovascular events. Although histological analysis remains the gold standard for confirming the presence of myocardial fibrosis, endomyocardial biopsy is invasive, has sampling errors, and is not practical in the routine clinical setting. Cardiac imaging modalities offer noninvasive surrogate biomarkers not only for fibrosis but also for myocardial edema and infiltration to varying degrees, and have important roles in the diagnosis and management of cardiac diseases. This review summarizes important pathophysiological features in the development of commonly encountered cardiac diseases, and the principles, advantages, and disadvantages of various cardiac imaging modalities (echocardiography, single-photon emission computer tomography, positron emission tomography, multidetector computer tomography, and cardiac magnetic resonance) for myocardial tissue characterization, with an emphasis on imaging focal and diffuse myocardial fibrosis.

Keywords: cardiac imaging; edema; fibrosis; late gadolinium enhancement; mapping.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Imaging Techniques*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results