Mapping epicardial fat with multi-detector computed tomography to facilitate percutaneous transepicardial arrhythmia ablation

Suhny Abbara, Jay C. Desai, Ricardo C. Cury, Javed Butler, Koen Nieman, Vivek Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


A sizable portion of ventricular tachycardia circuits are epicardial, especially in patients with non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, e.g. Chagas disease. Thus there is a growing interest among the electrophysiologists in transepicardial mapping and myocardial ablation for treatment of arrhythmias. However, increased epicardial fat can be a significant hindrance in procedural success as it can mimic infarct during mapping and can also decrease the effectiveness of ablation. Quantitative knowledge of epicardial fat pre-procedure can potentially significantly facilitate the conduct and outcomes of these procedures. In this study we assessed the epicardial fat distribution and thickness in vivo in 59 patients who underwent multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) for coronary artery assessment using a 16-slice scanner. Multiplanar reconstructions were obtained in the ventricular short axis at the basal, mid ventricular, and near the apex level, and in a four-chamber view. In the short axis slices, we measured epicardial fat diameter in nine segments, and in the four-chamber view, it was measured in five segments. In grooved segments the maximum fat thickness was recorded, while in non-grooved segments thickness at three equally spaced points were averaged. The results were as follows starting clockwise: superior inter-ventricular (IV) groove (all measurements are in mm, in basal, mid ventricular, and apical levels, respectively) (11.2, 8.6, 7.3), left ventricular (LV) superior lateral wall (1.0, 1.5, 1.7), LV inferior lateral wall (1.3, 2.2, 3.5), inferior IV groove (9.2, 6.5, 6.1), right ventricular (RV) diaphragmatic wall (1.4, 0.2, 1.0), acute margin (9.2, 7.3, 7.8), RV anterior free wall inferior (6.8, 4.0, 4.7), RV anterior free wall superior (6.5, 3.2, 3.1), RV superior wall (5.6, 2.7, 4.0), We measured the following four-chamber segments: LV apex (2.8 mm), left atrio-ventricular (AV) groove (12.7), right AV groove (14.8), RV apex (4.8), and anterior IV groove (7.7). The mean epicardial fat thickness for all cases was 5.3 mm (S.D. 1.6). The mean total epicardial fat for patients over 65 was 22% greater than younger patients, with a 36% increase along the RV anterior free wall, 57% along the RV diaphragmatic wall and 38% along the LV lateral wall. Women averaged 17% more total epicardial fat. In conclusion, this study was designed to provide an epicardial fat map for physicians performing percutaneous epicardial mapping and interventions. While the acute margin and RV anterior free wall tend to have high epicardial fat, and the LV lateral wall and RV diaphragmatic wall tend to have little to no fat, there is significant variation between patients. MDCT is a reliable modality for visualizing epicardial fat, and should be considered prior to undergoing procedures that are affected by epicardial fat content, especially in elderly and female populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-422
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Arrhythmias
  • Computed tomography
  • Epicardial fat
  • Percutaneous ablation
  • Radiofrequency ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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