Review of tests for monitoring doxorubicin-induced cardiomyopathy

Oncology. 1996 Nov-Dec;53(6):461-70. doi: 10.1159/000227621.


The objective of this review is to make physicians aware of new radionuclide methods to detect cardiac effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. This knowledge is important because of the limitations of the physical examination and the electrocardiogram for detecting early reversible cardiac damage. Presently left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) is routinely used to screen for cardiotoxicity. Since LVEF obtained by radionuclide angiocardiography is more accurate than the LVEF estimated by echocardiography, serial radionuclide LVEF monitoring is most commonly used to monitor cardiotoxicity. Diastolic measurements of left ventricular function (such as peak filling rate) are now being added to routine LVEF measurements to enhance standard radionuclide evaluation. This screening test should be done prior to beginning therapy and at appropriate points based on the baseline study, therapy scheme and the patient's clinical status. At some centers, exercise LVEF methods are being used to determine if cardiac reserve is adequate for the patient to tolerate additional chemotherapy when cardiac injury may be present. Previously, endomyocardial biopsy was needed to detect and confirm early anthracycline cardiotoxicity. This invasive test may be replaced by a new noninvasive in vivo method using radioactive monoclonal antibodies against cardiac muscle (indium-111-antimyosin). Because cardiac failure has been associated with adrenergic neuron injury, it has been proposed that radioactive methyliodobenzylguanine may detect the adrenergic abnormality which may predict future development of congestive heart failure or sudden death months after therapy is discontinued. Advantages and disadvantages of these methods in evaluating cardiotoxicity, and an algorithm to optimally monitor antitumor therapy-induced cardiomyopathy are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Cardiomyopathies / chemically induced*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects*
  • Drug Monitoring / methods*
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Doxorubicin