The mosaic of the cardiac amyloidosis diagnosis: role of imaging in subtypes and stages of the disease


Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Centers


Cardiac amyloidosis is a rare, infiltrative cardiomyopathy that presents with thickened ventricular walls and progressive heart failure. The morphological findings and clinical features are shared with many other diseases (i.e. hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, 'athlete's heart,' Fabry disease, and hypertensive cardiomyopathy), and misdiagnosis occurs frequently. Cardiologists have many instruments that can help reach a correct diagnosis in a relatively short time. As tiles of a mosaic are placed to create an image, thoughtful and smart use of the different diagnostic tools available allows the opportunity to identify amyloid infiltration of the myocardium. When the myocardium is involved, prognosis is poor, so identification of its involvement is crucial for disease management. The diagnostic process begins with an accurate evaluation of clinical elements and includes cardiovascular imaging (echocardiography, magnetic resonance, and nuclear medicine), electrocardiography, serological assays, and myocardial biopsy; only the appropriate integration of these instruments can reveal the diagnosis to an expert physician. The latest improvements in non-invasive diagnostic techniques with increased diagnostic power have reduced the need for biopsy.

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