Myocarditis is a general term referring to inflammation of the myocardium. 

Clinical presentation is variable in severity, ranging from asymptomatic to cardiogenic shock, but it typically is associated with other viral symptoms, including fever and malaise. It typically occurs 7-10 after the onset of the systemic illness.

Chest pain may occur, in a variety of typical and atypical presentations.

Lab values are typically nonspecific, with increased ESR and leukocytosis. Creatine kinase, CK-MB, and troponins may be elevated. A viral titer may be positive.

Myocarditis has a number of etiologies. Inflammation from viral etiologies is thought to be caused both by direct cellular damage by the infectious agent and also from involvement by the host's immune system.

  • viral (most common aetiology): e.g. coxsackievirus, echovirus, arbovirus
  • bacterial, e.g. Corynebacterium diphtheriaeStreptococcus pyogenesStaphylococcus aureusBorrelia burgdorferi
  • fungal, e.g. Candida spp.
  • parasites, e.g. Trypanosoma cruzi

Although nonspecific, cardiac CK and troponins (TnI, TnT, TnC) are elevated.

Myocarditis is classified into four categories based on the clinical and pathologic presentation: fulminant, acute, chronic active, and chronic persistent.

  • cine SSFP
    • regional or global wall motion abnormalities are common but nonspecific (biventricular wall motion abnormality, however, is the main predictor of death or transplantation)
    • pericardial effusion is reported in ~45% (range 32-57%) of patients with myocarditis
  • T2 black blood
    • T2 myocardial hyperintensity is compatible with oedema
    • T2 hyperintensity may be global and difficult to detect
  • early gadolinium enhancement
    • regional vasodilatation and increased blood volume due to the inflammation in myocarditis causes early postcontrast enhancement
  • delayed gadolinium enhancement
    • delayed myocardial enhancement in myocarditis is an indication of irreversible myocardial necrosis and fibrosis.
    • distribution of enhancement is variable, but classically involves the subepicardial myocardium (mid-interventricular and focal transmural patterns are also possible)

Lake Louise consensus criteria is two out of the following three criteria to fulfil the diagnosis of myocarditis 5:

  • T2 myocardium to skeletal muscle ratio >1.9
  • delayed enhancement in subepicardial and or mid-myocardium in nonischemic distribution
  • increased global myocardial early gadolinium enhancement ratio between myocardium and skeletal muscle in gadolinium-enhanced T1WI

Endomyocardial biopsy is considered the gold standard of diagnosis, although it is subject to sampling error and there is a risk of perforation or tamponade. Endomyocardial biopsy is graded according to the Dallas criteria, with gradations of myocarditis, borderline myocarditis, and no myocarditis.

A typical appearance of myocarditis on MRI in the correct clinical setting may obviate biopsy.

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Article information

rID: 31898
System: Cardiac
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Myocardial inflammation

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