Myocardial structural and functional changes in patients with liver cirrhosis awaiting liver transplantation: a comprehensive cardiovascular magnetic resonance and echocardiographic study

Hyue Mee Kim, Hyung-Kwan Kim, Jeong-Hoon Lee, Yun Bin Lee, Eun-Ah Park, Jun-Bean Park, Seung-Pyo Lee, Yoon Jun Kim, Yong-Jin Kim, Jung-Hwan Yoon, Dae-Won Sohn
Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance 2020 April 23, 22 (1): 25

BACKGROUND: Cardiac dysfunction is increasingly recognized in patients with liver cirrhosis. Nevertheless, the presence or absence of structural alterations such as diffuse myocardial fibrosis remains unclear. We aimed to investigate myocardial structural changes in cirrhosis, and explore left ventricular (LV) structural and functional changes induced by liver transplantation.

METHODS: This study included 33 cirrhosis patients listed for transplantation and 20 healthy controls. Patients underwent speckle-tracking echocardiography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) with extracellular volume fraction (ECV) quantification at baseline (n = 33) and 1 year after transplantation (n = 19).

RESULTS: CMR-based LV ejection fraction (CMRLV-EF ) and echocardiographic LV global longitudinal strain (LV-GLS) demonstrated hyper-contractile LV in cirrhosis patients (CMRLV-EF : 67.8 ± 6.9% in cirrhosis vs 63.4 ± 6.4% in healthy controls, P = 0.027; echocardiographic GLS: - 24.2 ± 2.7% in cirrhosis vs - 18.6 ± 2.2% in healthy controls, P < 0.001). No significant differences in LV size, wall thickness, mass index, and diastolic function between cirrhosis patients and healthy controls were seen (all P > 0.1). Only one of the cirrhosis patients showed late gadolinium enhancement. However, cirrhosis patients showed a higher ECV (31.6 ± 5.1% vs 25.4 ± 1.9%, P < 0.001) than healthy controls. ECV showed a positive correlation with Child-Pugh score (r = 0.564, P = 0.001). Electrocardiogram-based corrected QT interval was prolonged in cirrhosis (P < 0.001). One-year post-transplantation, echocardiographic LV-GLS (from - 24.9 ± 2.4% to - 20.6 ± 3.4%, P < 0.001) and ECV (from 30.9 ± 4.5% to 25.4 ± 2.6%, P = 0.001) moved to the normal ranges. Corrected QT interval decreased after transplantation (from 475 ± 41 to 429 ± 30 msec, P = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Myocardial extracellular volume expansion with augmented resting LV systolic function was characteristic of cirrhotic cardiomyopathy, which normalizes 1-year post-transplantation. Thus, myocardial extracellular expansion represents a structural component of myocardial changes in cirrhosis.

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