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BACKGROUND: In suspected non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), this presumed diagnosis may not hold true in all cases, particularly in patients with nonobstructive coronary arteries (NOCA). Additionally, in multivessel coronary artery disease, the presumed infarct-related artery may be incorrect. OBJECTIVES: This study sought to assess the diagnostic utility of cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) before invasive coronary angiogram (ICA) in suspected NSTEMI. METHODS: A total of 100 consecutive stable patients with suspected acute NSTEMI (70% male, age 62 ± 11 years) prospectively underwent CMR pre-ICA to assess cardiac function (cine), edema (T2-weighted imaging, T1 mapping), and necrosis/scar (late gadolinium enhancement). CMR images were interpreted blinded to ICA findings. The clinical care and ICA teams were blinded to CMR findings until post-ICA. RESULTS: Early CMR (median 33 hours postadmission and 4 hours pre-ICA) confirmed only 52% (52 of 100) of patients had subendocardial infarction, 15% transmural infarction, 18% nonischemic pathologies (myocarditis, Takotsubo and other forms of cardiomyopathies), and 11% normal CMR; 4% were nondiagnostic. Subanalyses according to ICA findings showed that, in patients with obstructive coronary artery disease (73 of 100), CMR confirmed only 84% (61 of 73) had MI, 10% (7 of 73) nonischemic pathologies, and 5% (4 of 73) normal. In patients with NOCA (27 of 100), CMR found MI in only 22% (6 of 27 true MI with NOCA), and reclassified the presumed diagnosis of NSTEMI in 67% (18 of 27: 11 nonischemic pathologies, 7 normal). In patients with CMR-MI and obstructive coronary artery disease (61 of 100), CMR identified a different infarct-related artery in 11% (7 of 61). CONCLUSIONS: In patients presenting with suspected NSTEMI, a CMR-first strategy identified MI in 67%, nonischemic pathologies in 18%, and normal findings in 11%. Accordingly, CMR has the potential to affect at least 50% of all patients by reclassifying their diagnosis or altering their potential management.

Original publication




Journal article


JACC Cardiovasc Imaging

Publication Date



CMR, MINOCA, NSTEMI, acute coronary syndrome, early cardiac magnetic resonance, myocarditis