Autonomic innervation plays an important role in proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Altered cardiac sympathetic function is present in a variety of diseases, and can be assessed with radionuclide imaging using sympathetic neurotransmitter analogues. The most studied adrenergic radiotracer is cardiac 123I-meta-iodobenzylguanidine (123I-mIBG). Cardiac 123I-mIBG uptake can be evaluated using both planar and tomographic imaging, thereby providing insight into global and regional sympathetic innervation. Standardly assessed imaging parameters are the heart-to-mediastinum ratio and washout rate, customarily derived from planar images. Focal tracer deficits on tomographic imaging also show prognostic utility, with some data suggesting that the best approach to tomographic image interpretation may differ from conventional methods. Cardiac 123I-mIBG image findings strongly correlate with the severity and prognosis of many cardiovascular diseases, especially heart failure and ventricular arrhythmias. Cardiac 123I-mIBG imaging in heart failure is FDA approved for prognostic purposes. With the robustly demonstrated ability to predict occurrence of potentially fatal arrhythmias, cardiac 123I-mIBG imaging shows promise for better selecting patients who will benefit from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, but clinical use has been hampered by lack of the randomized trial needed for incorporation into societal guidelines. In patients with ischemic heart disease, cardiac 123I-mIBG imaging aids in assessing the extent of damage and in identifying arrhythmogenic regions. There have also been studies using cardiac 123I-mIBG for other conditions, including patients following heart transplantation, diabetic related cardiac abnormalities and chemotherapy induced cardiotoxicity. Positron emission tomographic adrenergic radiotracers, that improve image quality, have been investigated, especially 11C-meta-hydroxyephedrine, and most recently 18F-fluorbenguan. Cadmium-zinc-telluride cameras also improve image quality. With better spatial resolution and quantification, PET tracers and advanced camera technologies promise to expand the clinical utility of cardiac sympathetic imaging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging