Chronic ischemic left ventricular dysfunction is present in number of clinical syndromes in which myocardial revascularization results in an improvement of left ventricular function, patients’ functional class, and their survival. Coronary arteriography is of limited value in diagnosis of viability. Noninvasive testing, traditionally nuclear imaging, stress echocardiography and (stress) electrocardiography have been the clinical mainstays for assessing myocardial viability as well as to detect myocardial ischemia. However, cardiovascular magnetic resonance is a rapidly emerging noninvasive imaging technique, providing high-resolution images of the heart in any desired plane and without radiation. Rather than a single technique, cardiovascular magnetic resonance consists of several techniques that can be performed separately or in various combinations during a patient examination. Whereas, no single cardiovascular magnetic resonance technique has a perfect, or near perfect, sensitivity and specificity, therefore, a combination of various cardiovascular magnetic resonance techniques are needed for the assessment of myocardial viability. The aim of this review article is to summarize our current understanding of the concept of myocardial viability, to discuss the clinical value of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (in particular the different cardiovascular magnetic resonance techniques to assess viability) for the evaluation of patients with coronary artery disease and chronic left ventricular dysfunction and to present the current place of cardiovascular magnetic resonance among other techniques for the assessment of viable myocardium.
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