Ischemically compromised myocardium displays different time-courses of functional recovery: Correlation with morphological alterations?

Felix Haas, Luise Jennen, Ulrich Heinzmann, Norbert Augustin, Michael Wottke, Markus Schwaiger, Rüdiger Lange

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43 Scopus citations


Objective: It has been demonstrated that positron emission tomography (PET) predicts the functional recovery of viable but ischemically compromised myocardium. Reversible contractile dysfunction after revascularization has been reported for 'hibernating myocardium' and stunned myocardium, however, there are little data concerning the time-course and the extent of improvement of the two different pathophysiological conditions. Methods: Twenty-nine patients with advanced coronary artery disease and severely reduced left ventricular function (EF 18-35%) who were referred for isolated coronary artery bypass grafting underwent preoperative PET viability assessment and were functionally assessed by two-dimensional echocardiography preoperatively at 11 days, 14 weeks, and more than 12 months after surgical revascularization. Intraoperative biopsies were taken from dysfunctional areas defined by PET as segments of normal perfusion and normal metabolism (stunned myocardium) and from areas with a 'mismatch' between perfusion and metabolism (hibernating myocardium). The degree of morphological alterations was evaluated by electron microscopy. Results: In 70% of the 240 dysfunctional segments, 'stunned myocardium' was present whereas 'hibernating myocardium' could be detected in only 24% (P < 0.01). Hibernating myocardium was associated with more severe preoperative wall motion abnormalities and incomplete postoperative recovery. After 1 year, 31% of 'stunned' segments vs. only 18% of 'hibernating' segments showed complete functional restoration (P < 0.05). This incomplete improvement was associated with more severe morphological alterations including depletion of sarcomeres, accumulation of glycogen, loss of sarcoplasmatic reticulum, and cellular sequestration. Conclusions: These data indicate that in patients with severe ischemic left ventricular dysfunction 'stunned myocardium' is more prevalent than 'hibernation'. Functional normalization is more frequent in 'stunned' segments, whereas areas of 'hibernation' showed more severe tissue injury and protracted recovery. Different degrees of myocardial injury coexist in most patients, which determines the time-course and the extent of improvement after revascularization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Electron microscopy
  • Functional improvement
  • Morphological alterations
  • Myocardial viability
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Severe left ventricular dysfunction


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