Objectives: A long-term follow-up study with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging was undertaken to detect the morphological onset and to establish the early diagnosis in apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
Background: A spadelike configuration on left ventriculogram (LVG) is regarded as a diagnostic criterion for the classical apical HCM. There also exists a segmented hypertrophy at the apical level without indicating the spadelike features (a nonspade configuration). To detect the hypertrophied myocardium of the nonspade configuration, circumferential scrutiny of the apex is required. Although both configurations can be underlying causes of giant negative T waves, etiological relationship between the two is not clarified.
Methods: The criteria for the spadelike configuration defined on left ventricular short-axis NMR images were as follows: (apical maximal thickness > or = 15 mm), (apical anterior thickness over basal anterior thickness > or = 1.3) and (apical posterior thickness over basal posterior thickness > or =1.3). Thirteen patients who had predominant hypertrophy (> or = 15 mm) at the apical level without the spadelike configuration underwent NMR imaging twice before and after 54+/-10 months' follow-up.
Results: Apical hypertrophy that had been confined to the lateral wall in four, the anterior-lateral wall in two, and the septal-anterior wall in one developed to become circumferential hypertrophy that fulfilled the criteria for the spadelike configuration after the follow-up period.
Conclusions: The spadelike configuration can begin with the nonspade configuration and therefore, both can constitute a single disease entity of apical HCM. The early diagnosis of apical HCM can be achieved by identifying the hypertrophy frequently confined to the lateral wall at the apical level.