Friedreich's Ataxia: Case series and the Additive Value of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance

J Neuromuscul Dis. 2020;7(1):61-67. doi: 10.3233/JND-180373.


BackgroundFriedreich's ataxia (FA) is an autosomal-recessive neurodegenerative disease characterised by neurologic, cardiac and endocrine abnormalities. Currently, Friedreich cardiomyopathy (FA-CM) staging is based on early ECG findings, high sensitivity troponin (hsTNT) ≥14 ng/ml and echocardiographic left ventricular (LV) morphologic and functional evaluation. However, further parameters, accessible only by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), such as myocardial oedema, perfusion defects, replacement and/or diffuse myocardial fibrosis, may have a place in the staging of FA-CA. Our aim was to elucidate the additive value of CMR in FA-CM.MethodsThree FA cases were assessed using ECG, 24 h Holter recording, hsTNT, routine ECHO including wall dimension, valvular and ventricular function evaluation and CMR using 1.5T Ingenia system. Ventricular volumes-function, wall dimensions and fibrosis imaging using late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) was performed.ResultsAll FA patients had non-specific ECG changes, almost normal 24 h Holter recording, mild hypertrophy with normal function assessed by echocardiography and increased hsTNT. However, the CMR evaluation revealed the presence of LGE >5% of LV mass, indicative of severe fibrosis. Therefore, the FA patients were re-categorized as having severe FA-CA, although their LVEF remained normal.ConclusionThe combination of classical diagnostic indices and CMR may reveal early asymptomatic FA-CM and motivate the early initiation of cardiac treatment. Furthermore, these indices can be also used to validate specific treatment targets in FA, potentially useful in the prevention of FA-CM.

Keywords: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging; Friedreich’s ataxia; diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Friedreich Ataxia / complications
  • Friedreich Ataxia / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Severity of Illness Index