Left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) is a rare cause of progressive cardiomyopathy thought to result from incomplete myocardial development. It has been associated with an increased risk of sudden death, especially in those with a depressed left ventricular ejection fraction. Thus, the current recommendation for patients with this diagnosis is restriction from participation in competitive sports.
An asymptomatic 18-year-old African American collegiate football player had a murmur on his preparticipation physical examination. Subsequent cardiology workup revealed hypertrabeculation vs LVNC. Second and third opinions were sought from national experts in the field: one gave the diagnosis of LVNC and recommended restriction; the other gave the diagnosis of hypertrabeculation. After a family meeting including the player, mother, team physician, and consulting cardiologist, the player was permitted to participate in football.
Conclusions and Relevance
Distinguishing between pathologic LVNC and physiologic hypertrabeculation is a diagnostic challenge and is becoming increasingly commonplace with enhanced echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging modalities. Given the limited data on such patients, careful workup and discussion between patient and providers is required.