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Open access

Karthik Seetharam, Nobuyuki Kagiyama and Partho P Sengupta

The intersection of global broadband technology and miniaturized high-capability computing devices has led to a revolution in the delivery of healthcare and the birth of telemedicine and mobile health (mHealth). Rapid advances in handheld imaging devices with other mHealth devices such as smartphone apps and wearable devices are making great strides in the field of cardiovascular imaging like never before. Although these technologies offer a bright promise in cardiovascular imaging, it is far from straightforward. The massive data influx from telemedicine and mHealth including cardiovascular imaging supersedes the existing capabilities of current healthcare system and statistical software. Artificial intelligence with machine learning is the one and only way to navigate through this complex maze of the data influx through various approaches. Deep learning techniques are further expanding their role by image recognition and automated measurements. Artificial intelligence provides limitless opportunity to rigorously analyze data. As we move forward, the futures of mHealth, telemedicine and artificial intelligence are increasingly becoming intertwined to give rise to precision medicine.

Open access

Arturo Evangelista, Giuliana Maldonado, Domenico Gruosso, Laura Gutiérrez, Chiara Granato, Nicolas Villalva, Laura Galian, Teresa González-Alujas, Gisela Teixido and Jose Rodríguez-Palomares

Acute aortic syndrome (AAS) comprises a range of interrelated conditions caused by disruption of the medial layer of the aortic wall, including aortic dissection, intramural haematoma and penetrating aortic ulcer. Since mortality from AAS is high, a prompt and accurate diagnosis using imaging techniques is paramount. Both transthoracic (TTE) and transoesophageal echocardiography (TEE) are useful in the diagnosis of AAS. TTE should be the first imaging technique to evaluate patients with thoracic pain in the emergency room. Should AAS be suspected, contrast administration is recommended when images are not definitive. TEE allows high-quality images in thoracic aorta. The main drawback of this technique is that it is semi-invasive and the presence of a blind area that limits visualisation of the distal ascending aorta near. TEE identifies the location and size of the entry tear, secondary communications, true lumen compression and the dynamic flow pattern of false lumen. Although computed tomography (CT) is the most used imaging technique in the diagnosis of AAS, echocardiography offers complementary information relevant for its management. The best imaging strategy for appropriately diagnosing and assessing AAS is to combine CT, mainly ECG-gated contrast-enhanced CT, and TTE. Currently, TEE tends to be carried out in the operating theatre immediately before surgical or endovascular therapy and in monitoring their results. The aims of this review are to establish the current role of echocardiography in the diagnosis and management of AAS based on its advantages and limitations.

Open access

Victoria Pettemerides, Thomas Turner, Conor Steele and Anita Macnab

Introduction

The 2016 NICE clinical guideline 95 (CG95) demoted functional imaging to a second-line test following computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA). Many cardiac CT services in the UK require substantial investment and growth to implement this. Chest pain services like ours are likely to continue to use stress testing for the foreseeable future. We share service evaluation data from our department to show that a negative stress echocardiogram can continue to be used for chest pain assessment.

Methods

1815 patients were referred to rapid access chest pain clinic (RACPC) between June 2013 and March 2015. 802 patients had stress echocardiography as the initial investigation. 446 patients had normal resting left ventricular (LV) systolic function and a negative stress echocardiogram. At least 24 months after discharge, a survey was carried out to detect major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) (cardiac death, myocardial infarction, admission to hospital for heart failure or angina, coronary artery disease at angiography, revascularisation by angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting) within 2 years.

Results

Overall, 351 patients were successfully followed up. The mean Diamond-Forrester (D-F) score and QRISK2 suggested a high pre-test probability (PTP) of coronary artery disease (CAD). There were nine deaths (eight non-cardiac deaths and one cardiac death). MACE occurred in four patients with a mean time of 17.5 months (11.6–23.7 months). The annual event rate was 0.6%.

Conclusion

A negative stress echocardiogram can reliably reassure patients and clinicians even in high PTP populations with suspected stable angina. It can continue to be used to assess stable chest pain post CG95.

Open access

David G Platts, Kenji Shiino, Jonathan Chan, Darryl J Burstow, Gregory M Scalia and John F Fraser

Background

Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) plays a fundamental role in the management of patients supported with extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). In light of fluctuating clinical states, serial monitoring of cardiac function is required. Formal quantification of ventricular parameters and myocardial mechanics offer benefit over qualitative assessment. The aim of this research was to compare unenhanced (UE) versus contrast-enhanced (CE) quantification of myocardial function and mechanics during ECMO in a validated ovine model.

Methods

Twenty-four sheep were commenced on peripheral veno-venous ECMO. Acute smoke-induced lung injury was induced in 21 sheep (3 controls). CE-TTE with Definity using Cadence Pulse Sequencing was performed. Two readers performed image analysis with TomTec Arena. End diastolic area (EDA, cm2), end systolic area (ESA, cm2), fractional area change (FAC, %), endocardial global circumferential strain (EGCS, %), myocardial global circumferential strain (MGCS, %), endocardial rotation (ER, degrees) and global radial strain (GRD, %) were evaluated for UE-TTE and CE-TTE.

Results

Full data sets are available in 22 sheep (92%). Mean CE EDA and ESA were significantly larger than in unenhanced images. Mean FAC was almost identical between the two techniques. There was no significant difference between UE and CE EGCS, MGCS and ER. There was significant difference in GRS between imaging techniques. Unenhanced inter-observer variability was from 0.48–0.70 but significantly improved to 0.71–0.89 for contrast imaging in all echocardiographic parameters.

Conclusion

Semi-automated methods of myocardial function and mechanics using CE-TTE during ECMO was feasible and similar to UE-TTE for all parameters except ventricular areas and global radial strain. Addition of contrast significantly decreased inter-observer variability of all measurements.

Open access

John M Simpson and Annemien van den Bosch

Three-dimensional echocardiography is a valuable tool for the assessment of cardiac function where it permits calculation of chamber volume and function. The anatomy of valvar and septal structures can be presented in unique and intuitive ways to enhance surgical planning. Guidance of interventional procedures using the technique has now become established in many clinical settings. Enhancements of image processing to include intracavity flow, image fusion and true 3D displays look set to further improve the contribution of this modality to care of the patient with congenital heart disease.

Open access

Takahide Ito and Michihiro Suwa

Spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) indicates blood stasis in cardiac chambers and major vessels, and is a known precursor of thrombus formation. Transesophageal echocardiography plays a pivotal role in detecting and grading SEC in the left atrial (LA) cavity. Assessing LA SEC can identify patients at increased risk for thromboembolic events. LA SEC also develops in patients who have sinus rhythm, especially in those with heart failure. Detection of LA SEC is not uncommon in subjects who have multiple cardiovascular comorbidities, although mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the role of mitral regurgitation in counteracting LA SEC and subsequent thromboembolism is controversial. Moreover, alterations of blood coagulability and elevated levels of certain biological markers in the blood contribute to occurrence of LA SEC. This review describes the pathogenesis and assessment of SEC, in addition to the relationship between LA SEC and clinical, biological and echocardiographic parameters.

Open access

Jack Parnell, Mehak Tahir and Benoy N Shah

Open access

Richard P Steeds, Richard Wheeler, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Joseph Reiken, Petros Nihoyannopoulos, Roxy Senior, Mark J Monaghan and Vishal Sharma

Stress echocardiography is an established technique for assessing coronary artery disease. It has primarily been used for the diagnosis and assessment of patients presenting with chest pain in whom there is an intermediate probability of coronary artery disease. In addition, it is used for risk stratification and to guide revascularisation in patients with known ischaemic heart disease. Although cardiac computed tomography has recently been recommended in the United Kingdom as the first-line investigation in patients presenting for the first time with atypical or typical angina, stress echocardiography continues to have an important role in the assessment of patients with lesions of uncertain functional significance and patients with known ischaemic heart disease who represent with chest pain. In this guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography, the indications and recommended protocols are outlined for the assessment of ischaemic heart disease by stress echocardiography.

Open access

John Chambers

Echocardiography is the key to the detection and initial assessment of valve disease. The examination helps differentiate severe from moderate disease if this is unclear from the echocardiogram, but is less useful than echocardiography for surveillance. However the history is extremely important because symptoms are an indication for surgery in all types of valve disease. In aortic stenosis the mortality rises soon after the onset of exertional breathlessness or chest tightness. Exercise testing is an extension of the history and may reveal symptoms in apparently asymptomatic patients. This article discusses the history, examination and exercise testing in patients either newly referred or under routine follow-up in a specialist valve clinic.

Open access

Jet van Zalen, Sveeta Badiani, Lesley Hart, Andrew Marshall, Louisa Beale, Gary Brickley, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Nikhil Patel and Guy Lloyd

Background: Mortality dramatically rises with the onset of symptoms in patients with severe aortic stenosis (AS). Surgery is indicated when symptoms become apparent or when there is ventricular decompensation. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in combination with exercise echocardiography can unmask symptoms and provides valuable information regarding contractile reserve. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of reduced exercise tolerance and the parameters predicting adverse cardiovascular events.

Methods: Thirty-two patients with asymptomatic severe AS were included in this study. Patients were followed up as part of an enhanced surveillance clinic.

Results: Age was 69±15.7 years, 75% of patients were male. Patients had a raised NT-ProBNP of 301 pg/ml. VO2peak was 19.5±6.2 ml/kg/min. 41% of patients had a reduced %VO2peak and this predicted unplanned cardiac hospitalisation (p=0.005). Exercise systolic longitudinal velocity(S’) and age were the strongest predictors for VO2peak (R2=0.76; p<0.0001). Exercise S’ was the strongest predictor for NT-ProBNP (R2=0.48; p=0.001).

Conclusion: A large proportion of patients had a lower than predicted VO2peak. The major determinant of exercise and NT-proBNP is the ability of the left ventricle(LV) to augment S’ on exercise rather than the severity of aortic valve obstruction or resting structural remodelling of the LV. Reduced exercise tolerance and more adverse remodelling, rather than valve obstruction predicted unplanned hospitalisation. This study demonstrates that for those patients, in whom a watchful waiting is an agreed strategy, a detailed assessment should be undertaken including CPET, exercise echocardiography and biomarkers to ensure those with exercise limitation and risk of decompensation are detected early and treated appropriately.