Radionuclide imaging of cardiac autonomic innervation

Sang Yong Ji, Mark I Travin
Journal of Nuclear Cardiology 2010, 17 (4): 655-66
Cardiac autonomic function plays a crucial role in health and disease, with abnormalities both reflecting the severity of the disease and contributing specifically to clinical deterioration and poor prognosis. Radiotracer analogs of the sympathetic mediator norepinephrine have been investigated extensively, and are at the brink of potential widespread clinical use. The most widely studied SPECT tracer, I-123 metaiodobenzylguanidine ((123)I-mIBG) has consistently shown a strong, independent ability to risk stratify patients with advanced congestive heart failure. Increased global cardiac uptake appears to have a high negative predictive value in terms of cardiac events, especially death and arrhythmias, and therefore and may have a role in guiding therapy, particularly by helping to better select patients unresponsive to conventional medical therapies who would benefit from device therapies such as an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator), CRT (cardiac resynchronization therapy), LVAD (left ventricular assist device), or cardiac transplantation. Cardiac autonomic imaging with SPECT and PET tracers also shows potential to assess patients following cardiac transplant, those with primary arrhythmic condition, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, and during cardiotoxic chemotherapy. Radiotracer imaging of cardiac autonomic function allows visualization and quantitative measurements of underlying molecular aspects of cardiac disease, and should therefore provide a perspective that other cardiac tests cannot.

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