Public Release: 

MRI is better than SPECT in assessing heart damage in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

American College of Radiology

Contrast-enhanced MRI is better than SPECT in detecting heart damage in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that can lead to sudden death in young patients.

SPECT nuclear medicine studies are currently the most common way to look for myocardial damage in these patients; however; a new study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, found that MRI is a more comprehensive examination than SPECT. "MRI was better able to detect small areas of heart damage and was able to provide us with important data on cardiac function," said Yasuo Amano, MD, associate professor of radiology at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Amano is the lead author of the study. "MRI was able to properly reflect the myocardial damages that could lead to cardiac dysfunction in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy," he said.

The study included 23 patients; 368 segments of their hearts were investigated. The patients were diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy following an echocardiography screening examination. All of the patients had a SPECT and an MRI examination. "The results of our study indicate that contrast-enhanced MRI should be used on patients diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to determine the level of damage to the heart. SPECT can be done if no abnormalities appear on the MRI examination," Dr. Amano said.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart wall. The disease "results from several genetic abnormalities and environmental factors," said Dr. Amano. Its prevalence is not precisely known, although some reports indicate that it occurs in about 0.2% of the population, affecting men and women equally, he said.


The American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) is a highly respected peer-reviewed monthly radiology journal published by the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS). For almost 100 years, the AJR has been recognized as one of the best specialty journals in the world. The ARRS and AJR are named after Wilhelm Röentgen, who discovered the x-ray in 1895. For more information, visit

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