Clinical cardiac magnetic resonance spectroscopy--present state and future directions.
Neubauer S., Horn M., Hahn D., Kochsiek K.
MR spectroscopy opens a window to the non-invasive evaluation of various aspects of cardiac metabolism. Experimentally, the method has extensively been used since 1970's. 31P-MR allows the registration of cardiac high-energy phosphate metabolism to non-invasively estimate the energetic state of the heart: ATP, phosphocreatine, inorganic phosphate, monophosphate esters and intracellular pH can all be quantitated. In conjunction with extracellular shift reagents such as [DyTTHA]3- or [TmDOTP]5-, 23Na- and 39K-MR allow the measurement of intra- and extra-cellular cation pools. 1H-MR spectroscopy allows the detection of a large number of metabolites such as, e.g. creatine, lactate, or carnitine. Human cardiac spectrocsopy has so far been confined to the 31P nucleus. Localization techniques (DRESS, ISIS, 3D-CSI etc.) are required to confine the acquired signal to the heart region. Relative quantification is straightforward (phosphocreatine/ATP ratio), absolute quantification (mM) is under development. Cardiac 31P-MR spectroscopy has research application in at least three clinical areas: (1) Coronary artery disease: A biochemical stress test for non-invasive ischemia detection (decrease of phosphocreatine with exercise) and viability assessment via quantification of ATP may become feasible. (2) Heart failure: The phosphocreatine/ATP ratio may provide an independent index for grading of heart failure, allow to monitor the longterm effects of different forms of drug therapy on cardiac energy metabolism in heart failure, and may also hold prognostic information on survival. (3) Valve disease: It is possible that the decrease of phosphocreatine/ATP can be used to guide the timing for the valve replacement. At the present time, no routine clinical applications can be defined for the use of human cardiac spectroscopy in patients with cardiac disease. However, the technique holds great potential for the future as a non-invasive approach to cardiac metabolism, and in coming years routine applications may become reality.