Cardiac Imaging Biomarkers in Chronic Kidney Disease
Uremic cardiomyopathy (UC), the peculiar cardiac remodeling secondary to the systemic effects of renal dysfunction, is characterized by left ventricular (LV) diffuse fibrosis with hypertrophy (LVH) and stiffness and the development of heart failure and increased rates of cardiovascular mortality. Several imaging modalities can be used to obtain a non-invasive assessment of UC by different imaging biomarkers, which is the focus of the present review. Echocardiography has been largely employed in recent decades, especially for the determination of LVH by 2-dimensional imaging and diastolic dysfunction by pulsed-wave and tissue Doppler, where it retains a robust prognostic value; more recent techniques include parametric assessment of cardiac deformation by speckle tracking echocardiography and the use of 3D-imaging. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging allows a more accurate assessment of cardiac dimensions, including the right heart, and deformation by feature-tracking imaging; however, the most evident added value of CMR remains tissue characterization. T1 mapping demonstrated diffuse fibrosis in CKD patients, increasing with the worsening of renal disease and evident even in early stages of the disease, with few, but emerging, prognostic data. Some studies using T2 mapping highlighted the presence of subtle, diffuse myocardial edema. Finally, computed tomography, though rarely used to specifically assess UC, might provide incidental findings carrying prognostic relevance, including information on cardiac and vascular calcification. In summary, non-invasive cardiovascular imaging provides a wealth of imaging biomarkers for the characterization and risk-stratification of UC; integrating results from different imaging techniques can aid a better understanding of the physiopathology of UC and improve the clinical management of patients with CKD.