Multi-parametric cardiovascular magnetic resonance with regadenoson stress perfusion is safe following pediatric heart transplantation and identifies history of rejection and cardiac allograft vasculopathy

Nazia Husain*, Kae Watanabe, Haben Berhane, Aditi Gupta, Michael Markl, Cynthia K. Rigsby, Joshua D. Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: The progressive risk of graft failure in pediatric heart transplantation (PHT) necessitates close surveillance for rejection and coronary allograft vasculopathy (CAV). The current gold standard of surveillance via invasive coronary angiography is costly, imperfect and associated with complications. Our goal was to assess the safety and feasibility of a comprehensive multi-parametric CMR protocol with regadenoson stress perfusion in PHT and evaluate for associations with clinical history of rejection and CAV. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 26 PHT recipients who underwent stress CMR with tissue characterization and compared with 18 age-matched healthy controls. CMR protocol included myocardial T2, T1 and extracellular volume (ECV) mapping, late gadolinium enhancement (LGE), qualitative and semi-quantitative stress perfusion (myocardial perfusion reserve index; MPRI) and strain imaging. Clinical, demographics, rejection score and CAV history were recorded and correlated with CMR parameters. Results: Mean age at transplant was 9.3 ± 5.5 years and median duration since transplant was 5.1 years (IQR 7.5 years). One patient had active rejection at the time of CMR, 11/26 (42%) had CAV 1 and 1/26 (4%) had CAV 2. Biventricular volumes were smaller and cardiac output higher in PHT vs. healthy controls. Global T1 (1053 ± 42 ms vs 986 ± 42 ms; p < 0.001) and ECV (26.5 ± 4.0% vs 24.0 ± 2.7%; p = 0.017) were higher in PHT compared to helathy controls. Significant relationships between changes in myocardial tissue structure and function were noted in PHT: increased T2 correlated with reduced LVEF (r = − 0.57, p = 0.005), reduced global circumferential strain (r = − 0.73, p < 0.001) and reduced global longitudinal strain (r = − 0.49, p = 0.03). In addition, significant relationships were noted between higher rejection score and global T1 (r = 0.38, p = 0.05), T2 (r = 0.39, p = 0.058) and ECV (r = 0.68, p < 0.001). The presence of even low-grade CAV was associated with higher global T1, global ECV and maximum segmental T2. No major side effects were noted with stress testing. MPRI was analyzed with good interobserver reliability and was lower in PHT compared to healthy controls (0.69 ± − 0.21 vs 0.94 ± 0.22; p < 0.001). Conclusion: In a PHT population with low incidence of rejection or high-grade CAV, CMR demonstrates important differences in myocardial structure, function and perfusion compared to age-matched healthy controls. Regadenoson stress perfusion CMR could be safely and reliably performed. Increasing T2 values were associated with worsening left ventricular function and increasing T1/ECV values were associated with rejection history and low-grade CAV. These findings warrant larger prospective studies to further define the role of CMR in PHT graft surveillance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • CMR stress perfusion
  • Cardiac allograft vasculopathy
  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance
  • Parametric mapping
  • Pediatric heart transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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