AIMS: Lack of gadolinium-contrast wash-in on first-pass perfusion imaging, early gadolinium-enhanced imaging, or late gadolinium-enhanced (LGE) cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging after revascularized ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is commonly referred to as microvascular obstruction (MVO). Additionally, T2-weighted imaging allows for the visualization of infarct-related oedema and intramyocardial haemorrhage (IMH) within the infarction. However, the exact histopathological correlate of the contrast-devoid core and its relation to IMH is unknown.
METHODS AND RESULTS: In eight Yorkshire swine, the circumflex coronary artery was occluded for 75 min by a balloon catheter. After 7 days, CMR with cine imaging, T2-weighted turbospinecho, and LGE was performed. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance images were compared with histological findings after phosphotungstic acid-haematoxylin and anti-CD31/haematoxylin staining. These findings were compared with CMR findings in 27 consecutive PCI-treated STEMI patients, using the same scanning protocol. In the porcine model, the infarct core contained extensive necrosis and erythrocyte extravasation, without intact vasculature and hence, no MVO. The surrounding-gadolinium-enhanced-area contained granulation tissue, leucocyte infiltration, and necrosis with morphological intact microvessels containing microthrombi, without erythrocyte extravasation. Areas with IMH (median size 1.92 [0.36-5.25] cm(3)) and MVO (median size 2.19 [0.40-4.58] cm(3)) showed close anatomic correlation [intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.85, r = 0.85, P = 0.03]. Of the 27 STEMI patients, 15 had IMH (median size 6.60 [2.49-9.79] cm(3)) and 16 had MVO (median size 4.31 [1.05-7.57] cm(3)). Again, IMH and MVO showed close anatomic correlation (ICC 0.87, r = 0.93, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: The contrast-devoid core of revascularized STEMI contains extensive erythrocyte extravasation with microvascular damage. Attenuating the reperfusion-induced haemorrhage may be a novel target in future adjunctive STEMI treatment.