Objectives: This study used myocardial contrast echocardiography to investigate the extent of residual perfusion within the infarct zone in a select group of patients with recently reperfused myocardial infarction and evaluated its influence on the ultimate infarct size.
Background: Limited information is available on the status of myocardial perfusion within postischemic dysfunctional segments at predischarge and on its influence on late regional and global functional recovery.
Methods: Twenty patients with acute myocardial infarction were selected for the study. Patients met the following inclusion criteria: 1) single-vessel coronary artery disease; 2) patency of infarct-related artery with persistent postischemic dysfunctional segments at predischarge; 3) stable clinical condition up to 6 months after hospital discharge. All selected patients underwent coronary angiography and myocardial contrast echocardiography before hospital discharge and repeated the echocardiographic examination 6 months later. Patients were grouped according to the pattern of contrast enhancement in predischarge dysfunctional segments.
Results: In nine patients (group I), the length of segments showing abnormal contraction coincided with that of the contrast defect segments. In the remaining 11 patients (group II), postischemic dysfunctional segments were partly or completely reperfused. There was no difference between the two groups in asynergic segment length at predischarge (7.3 +/- 2.5 vs. 7.2 +/- 4.3 cm, p = NS). At follow-up study, asynergic segment length was significantly reduced in group II patients, whereas no changes were observed in group I patients (from 7.2 +/- 4.3 to 4.7 +/- 3.7 cm, p < 0.005; and from 7.3 +/- 2.5 to 7.5 +/- 2.9 cm, p = NS, respectively).
Conclusions: Among patients with a predischarge patent infarct-related artery, further improvement in regional and global function may be expected during follow-up when residual perfusion in the infarct zone is present.