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Radionuclide techniques for myocardial viability and hibernation
  1. Cardiac Department,
  2. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary,
  3. Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, UK

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In hibernation there is a persistent, reversible abnormality of contraction of viable myocardium that normalises upon revascularisation. It may be short term, in which case no ultrastructural changes occur, or long term when myofibrils are disorganised and reduced in number, and myocardial glucose content and extracellular collagen are increased. There is usually some preservation of flow reserve, and hibernating myocardium generally responds to inotropic stimulation with an increase in contraction.

In myocardial stunning there is transient depression of ventricular contraction which is induced by ischaemia and which persists after the ischaemic insult, despite the absence of irreversible damage and the restoration of normal or near normal perfusion.

Although the concepts of hibernation and stunning are superficially distinct, in reality there is considerable overlap. In contrast to earlier expectations which imagined that hibernation was an adaptive response to a chronic reduction of blood flow, recent work has demonstrated that akinetic or severely hypokinetic myocardial segments, which bear all the hallmarks of hibernation and which subsequently have improved contraction after revascularisation, may be associated with normal or near normal perfusion at rest!1 ,2 Patients with reversible abnormalities of myocardial contraction induced by ischaemia are probably a heterogeneous group in which intermittently or permanently reduced perfusion, recurrent stunning, and long term …

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