Background Invasive coronary angiography (ICA) is still the reference test in suspected non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), although a substantial number of patients do not have obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). Early cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) may be a useful gatekeeper for ICA in this setting. The main objective was to investigate the accuracy of CMR to detect obstructive CAD in NSTEMI. Methods This study is a sub-analysis of a randomized controlled trial investigating whether a non-invasive imaging-first strategy safely reduced the number of ICA compared to routine clinical care in suspected NSTEMI (acute chest pain, non-diagnostic electrocardiogram, high sensitivity troponin T > 14 ng/L), and included 51 patients who underwent CMR prior to ICA. A stepwise approach was used to assess the diagnostic accuracy of CMR to detect (1) obstructive CAD (diameter stenosis >= 70% by ICA) and (2) an adjudicated final diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). First, in all patients the combination of cine, T2-weighted and late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) imaging was evaluated for the presence of abnormalities consistent with a coronary etiology in any sequence. Hereafter and only when the scan was normal or equivocal, adenosine stress-perfusion CMR was added. Results Of 51 patients included (63 +/- 10 years, 51% male), 34 (67%) had obstructive CAD by ICA. The sensitivity, specificity and overall accuracy of the first step to diagnose obstructive CAD were 79%, 71% and 77%, respectively. Additional vasodilator stress-perfusion CMR was performed in 19 patients and combined with step one resulted in an overall sensitivity of 97%, specificity of 65% and accuracy of 86%. Of the remaining 17 patients with non-obstructive CAD, 4 (24%) had evidence for a myocardial infarction on LGE, explaining the modest specificity. The sensitivity, specificity and overall accuracy to diagnose ACS (n = 43) were 88%, 88% and 88%, respectively. Conclusion CMR accurately detects obstructive CAD and ACS in suspected NSTEMI. Non-obstructive CAD is common with CMR still identifying an infarction in almost one-quarter of patients. CMR should be considered as an early diagnostic approach in suspected NSTEMI. Trial registration. The CARMENTA trial has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov with identifier NCT01559467.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2021


  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance
  • Coronary angiography
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diagnostic accuracy
  • High-sensitivity cardiac troponin
  • Non-ST elevation myocardial infarction
  • CARE


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