Isolated noncompaction of the myocardium in adults

Mayo Clin Proc. 1997 Jan;72(1):26-31. doi: 10.4065/72.1.26.


Objective: To describe the entity of isolated ventricular noncompaction (IVNC) and present a series of cases of this rare disorder in an adult population.

Material and methods: We review a 10-year experience with the diagnosis of IVNC and discuss the clinical, echocardiographic, and pathologic features of this condition. Echocardiographic diagnostic criteria included the absence of coexisting cardiac abnormalities, the presence of prominent and excessive trabeculations of one or more ventricular wall segments, and intertrabecular spaces perfused from the ventricular cavity. Pathologic examination focused on regions with exaggerated trabeculations and deep intertrabecular spaces.

Results: IVNC is an unexplained arrest of myocardial morphogenesis previously encountered mainly in pediatric patients. Among 37,555 transthoracic echocardiographic studies performed at our hospital between January 1984 and October 1993, 17 cases of IVNC were identified in adult subjects (14 men and 3 women, 18 to 71 years of age). The mean time from onset of symptoms to correct diagnosis was 3.5 +/- 5.7 years, and the mean duration of follow-up was 30 +/- 28 months. Common clinical symptoms were heart failure, ventricular arrhythmias, and a history of embolic events. Two-dimensional echocardiography revealed 10 patients with left ventricular and 7 (41%) with biventricular IVNC. During a 6-year follow-up period, eight patients died and two underwent heart transplantation.

Conclusion: Although the diagnosis of IVNC in an adult population is often delayed because of similarities with more frequently diagnosed conditions, two-dimensional echocardiography will facilitate the diagnosis of IVNC in this subset of patients. Because of the high incidence of heart failure, ventricular arrhythmias, and embolization in adults with IVNC, early diagnosis is important.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / pathology
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / etiology
  • Thromboembolism / etiology