Endomyocardial biopsy plays a role in diagnosing patients with unexplained cardiomyopathy

Hossein Ardehali*, Atif Qasim, Thomas Cappola, David Howard, Ralph Hruban, Joshua M. Hare, Kenneth L. Baughman, Edward K. Kasper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Background The etiology of cardiomyopathy is usually inferred from clinical information and preliminary laboratory studies. Patients with unexplained cardiomyopathy may be referred for endomyocardial biopsy (EMBx). It is unknown whether pathological information obtained from EMBx is beneficial or alters the diagnosis established clinically. This study was undertaken to evaluate the utility of EMBx in confirming or excluding a clinically suspected diagnosis. Methods We evaluated 845 patients with initially unexplained cardiomyopathy who underwent EMBx between 1982 and 1997 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. For each patient, an initial clinical diagnosis, an EMBx diagnosis, and a final diagnosis prior to discharge based on all available data were established. Results The final diagnosis differed from the initial clinical diagnosis in 264 (31%) of these patients; EMBx made the diagnosis in 196 (75%) of these cases. Initial diagnoses most frequently altered were myocarditis (34%) and idiopathic cardiomyopathy (25%). Initial diagnoses least likely to be altered were those in which biopsy was used to confirm or grade a previously documented illness, such as hemochromatosis (11%), amyloidosis (18%), or cardiomyopathy secondary to doxorubicin toxicity (0%). EMBx was more sensitive than clinical diagnosis in detecting myocarditis and amyloidosis, and proved to be very specific in detecting ischemic cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, amyloidosis, and hemochromatosis. Conclusions In patients with unexplained cardiomyopathy after a standard evaluation, the clinical assessment of the etiology is inaccurate in 31% of patients. EMBx establishes the final diagnosis in 75% of these patients with a high degree of specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-923
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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