Ventricular myocardial fat: CT findings and clinical correlates

Adam H. Jacobi, Arash Gohari, Benjamin Zalta, Marjorie W. Stein, Linda B. Haramati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Replacement of the myocardium by fat is a feature of arrythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD). Pathology literature describes ventricular myocardial fat to be present not only in ARVD, but much more frequently related to aging, prior myocardial infarction (MI), and chronic ischemia. We noted focal ventricular myocardial fat in a group of patients who underwent chest computed tomography (CT) for varied indications. The aim of this study is to describe the noncontrast CT findings and clinical correlates of ventricular myocardial fat in this population. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We prospectively identified 26 patients whose noncontrast chest CT (5/03 to 6/04) demonstrated ventricular myocardial fat and whose clinical charts were available. There were 14 men and 12 women with a mean age of 70 years. Twenty-three percent (6/26) had prior CTs. Each CT was reviewed by 3 radiologists in consensus. The site of the ventricular fat was noted. Each patient was categorized based on the location of the fat as follows: group 1-right ventricle (RV) only, group 2-left ventricle (LV) only, group 3-biventricular. Results of cardiac history, laboratory tests, and cardiac imaging were noted. RESULTS: The distribution of ventricular myocardial fat was: group 1 RV-27% (7/26), group 2 LV-46% (12/26), and group 3 biventricular-27% (7/26). Echocardiographic, nuclear cardiology, or electrocardiographic data localizing a prior MI to a specific site were available in 35% (9/26) of patients: 14% (1/7) of group 1, 50% (6/12) of group 2, and 29% (2/7) of group 3. Myocardial fat corresponded to the site of MI in 89% (8/9). The presence and distribution of ventricular fat on CT was unchanged from prior CT in 100% (6/6). When comparing group 1 and group 2, group 1 was older (77 vs. 64 y, P=0.005), more often female (57% vs. 17%, P=0.13) and had fewer prior MI (14% vs. 50%, P=0.17) than group 2. Only 1 patient in this series had ARVD. He was in group 3. CONCLUSIONS: The significance of ventricular myocardial fat varies by location. Fat in the RV is most often related to aging. Prior RV MI and ARVD are less common etiologies. Fat in the LV is frequently related to prior MI. Recognition of myocardial fat on a noncontrast chest CT may be the first opportunity to diagnose a silent MI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-135
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Arrythmogenic right ventricular
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Fat
  • Heart
  • Myocardial infarction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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