Radiographics. 2020 Dec 18:200084. doi: 10.1148/rg.2021200084. Online ahead of print.
Acute chest pain is a common reason for visits to the emergency department. It is important to distinguish among the various causes of acute chest pain, because treatment and prognosis are substantially different among the various conditions. It is critical to exclude acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which is a major cause of hospitalization, death, and health care costs worldwide. Myocardial ischemia is defined as potential myocyte death secondary to an imbalance between oxygen supply and demand due to obstruction of an epicardial coronary artery. Unobstructed coronary artery disease can have cardiac causes (eg, myocarditis, myocardial infarction with nonobstructed coronary arteries, and Takotsubo cardiomyopathy), and noncardiac diseases can manifest with acute chest pain and increased serum cardiac biomarker levels. In the emergency department, cardiac MRI may aid in the identification of patients with non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction or unstable angina or ACS with unobstructed coronary artery disease, if the patient's clinical history is known to be atypical. Also, cardiac MRI is excellent for risk stratification of patients for adverse left ventricular remodeling or major adverse cardiac events. Cardiac MRI should be performed early in the course of the disease (<2 weeks after onset of symptoms). Steady-state free-precession T2-weighted MRI with late gadolinium enhancement is the mainstay of the cardiac MRI protocol. Further sequences can be used to analyze the different pathophysiologic subjacent mechanisms of the disease, such as microvascular obstruction or intramyocardial hemorrhage. Finally, cardiac MRI may provide several prognostic biomarkers that help in follow-up of these patients. Online supplemental material is available for this article. ©RSNA, 2020.