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Open access

Madalina Garbi and Mark J Monaghan

Quantitative analysis is an important part of the morphological assessment of the diseased mitral valve. It can be used to describe valve anatomy, pathology, function and the mechanisms of disease. Echocardiography is the main source of indirect quantitative data that is comparable with direct anatomic or surgical measurements. Furthermore, it can relate morphology with function. This review provides an account of current mitral valve quantification techniques and clinical applications.

Open access

Hena Patel, Stephen Boateng, Gurpreet Singh, and Steven Feinstein

Summary

Spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) is frequently observed in patients with structural and functional cardiovascular abnormalities. Literature describes cases of SEC either from agglutination of red blood cells and plasma proteins or from microcavitations. SEC secondary to the former is an independent predictor of future thromboembolic events and is most commonly observed in the left atrium or left atrial appendage. Thus, many authors reason that left atrial SEC is an indication for initiating anticoagulant therapy. We report a rare case of right atrial SEC that was incidentally found during echocardiographic evaluation of isolated peripheral edema in a healthy adult with a structurally normal heart. At present, there are no studies to offer guidance for management of right atrial SEC. This case emphasizes a necessary area of future research.

Learning points

  • Cardiovascular implications of SEC.

  • Diagnostic evaluation and management of SEC.

Open access

Adrienn Tarr, Stephan Stoebe, Jan Tuennemann, Zsuzsanna Baka, Dietrich Pfeiffer, Albert Varga, and Andreas Hagendorff

The aim of the present study was to find out whether early cardiac changes in patients receiving chemotherapy can be detected by the conventional and deformation parameters of 2D and 3D echocardiography. Twenty-five healthy subjects with normal regional left ventricular function (group 1) and 25 patients receiving chemotherapy (group 2) underwent 2D and 3D transthoracic echocardiography (Toshiba Artida Medical System). All patients (group 2) were examined before and during cardiotoxic chemotherapy at a 3-month follow-up. Left ventricular volumes, ejection fraction, muscle mass, global longitudinal, global radial, global circumferential strain, and rotation were analyzed with 2D and 3D echocardiography, while twist and time-to-peak-intervals were analyzed with 3D echocardiography. For left ventricular volumes and muscle mass, no significant differences were seen between the two study groups (P<0.05). According to our results, myocardial dysfunction induced by cardiotoxic chemotherapy can be detected by 2D global radial strain. Detecting myocardial dysfunction by global longitudinal and circumferential strain requires more than 3 months follow-up. Changes in rotation, twist or time-to-peak intervals could not be verified at the 3-month follow-up in the present study. 2D global radial strain seems to be the most sensitive and robust parameter to detect early myocardial damage during chemotherapy. 3D echocardiography is not yet an established method to detect myocardial damage in clinical practice due to lower spatial and temporal resolution.

Open access

Stephan Stoebe, Katharina Lange, Dietrich Pfeiffer, and Andreas Hagendorff

The present study was carried out to test the feasibility of proximal right coronary artery (RCA) imaging and to detect proximal RCA narrowing and occlusion by 2D and 3D transthoracic echocardiography in comparison to coronary angiography (CA). Standardised 2D and 3D echocardiography were performed prior to CA in 97 patients with sinus rhythm. The following parameters were determined: the longest longitudinal detectable RCA segment, the minimum and maximum width of the RCA, the area and number of detectable narrowing >50% of the proximal RCA and the correlation between the echocardiographic and angiographic findings. The visualisation of the proximal RCA and the detection of coronary artery narrowing in the proximal RCA are generally possible. Differences in width and area were not statistically significant between 2D and 3D echocardiography, but showed significant differences between echocardiography and CA. For the detection of proximal RCA narrowing, higher sensitivity and specificity values were obtained by 2D than by 3D echocardiography. However, in patients with sufficient image quality 3D echocardiography permits a more detailed visualisation of the anatomical proportions and an en-face view into the RCA ostium. The visualisation of the proximal RCA is feasible and narrowing can be detected by 2D and 3D echocardiography if image quality is sufficient. CA is the gold standard for the detection of coronary artery stenoses. However, the potential of this new approach is clinically important because crucial findings of the proximal RCA can be presumably detected non-invasively prior to CA.

Open access

Darwish I Naji, Adnan Chhatriwalla, David J Cohen, and Michael L Main

Open access

Patrick H Gibson, Fernando Riesgo, Jonathan B Choy, Daniel H Kim, and Harald Becher

Dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) is widely used during follow-up after cardiac transplant for the diagnosis of allograft vasculopathy. We investigated the effect of donor–recipient age difference on the ability to reach target heart rate (HR) during DSE.

All cardiac transplant patients who were undergoing DSE over a 3-year period in a single institution were reviewed. Target HR was specified as 85%×(220 – patient age). Further patient and donor demographics were obtained from the local transplant database.

61 patients (45 male, 55±12 years) were stressed with a median dose of 40 mcg/kg per min dobutamine. Only 37 patients (61%) achieved target HR. Donor hearts were mostly younger (mean 41±14 years, P<0.001), with only 11 patients (18%) having donors who were older than they were. Patients with older donors required higher doses of dobutamine (median 50 vs 30 mcg/kg per min, P<0.001) but achieved a lower percentage target HR (mean 93% vs 101%, P=0.003) than those with younger donors did. Patients with older donors were less likely to achieve target HR (18% vs 67%, P=0.003).

In conclusion, donor–recipient age difference affects the likelihood of achieving target HR and should be considered when a patient is consistently unable to achieve ‘adequate’ stress according to the patient's age.

Open access

Darwish I Naji, Alexander Pak, Jamie Lawless, and Michael L Main

Open access

Clare M Jackson, Helen E Ellis, Mark C Dodd, and Laurence O'Toole

Summary

The present case is an unusual one of a 21-year-old female with a primary osteosarcoma and left lung metastasis presenting following a witnessed pulseless electrical activity cardiac arrest. The electrocardiogram was unremarkable. A computed tomography pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) demonstrated a tumour within the left inferior pulmonary veins. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) revealed a severely hypokinetic left ventricle and a multi-lobulated, mobile mass arising from one of the left pulmonary veins which prolapsed to varying degrees on a beat-to-beat basis back and forth through the mitral valve into the left ventricle (during ventricular diastole) and retracted back into the left atrium (during ventricular systole). The present case demonstrates the importance of performing TTE in an emergency presentation, its influence on diagnosis and, in the present case, its usefulness in aiding the decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatments. It also highlights the importance of considering urgent intervention for a tumour seen to prolapse through the mitral valve because of the real risk of acute obstruction.

Learning points

  • The present case emphasises the importance of thorough clinical assessment in triggering TTE assessment in a critical care setting.

  • TTE is a portable, radiation-free imaging modality that can aid rapid diagnosis in a deteriorating patient and guide an informed management plan.

  • Many district general hospitals in the UK lack cardiology support and access to echocardiography ‘out-of-hours’. TTE, in the hands of an experienced operator, is an invaluable tool in the emergency assessment and management of critically unwell patients and should be available 24 h a day, 7 days a week.

  • Echosonographers and physicians seeing similar dynamic tumour pathology with variable transmission through the mitral valve should bear in mind acute obstruction as a potential consequence and thus consider urgent intervention.

Open access

Toby C Thomas and Claire L Colebourn

The subspecialty of critical care echocardiography is a rapidly developing area of cardiac imaging. The United Kingdom Committee for Critical Care Echocardiography was set up in 2009 to examine the remit of echocardiography in critical care, and a successful collaboration between the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) and the Intensive Care Society has resulted in the establishment of two new critical care accreditation processes: Focused Intensive Care Echocardiography and Advanced Critical Care Echocardiography. These accreditation processes are currently driving the development of satellite echo services within critical care departments throughout the UK. Individual practitioner – and more recently, departmental – accreditation have become well-established processes advocated by the BSE. Practitioner accreditation promotes accountability, and departmental accreditation standardises the environment in which practitioners operate. The accreditation of individual echocardiographers has been embraced by the critical care fraternity; we propose that departmental accreditation for critical care echo services be viewed in the same way. Identifying quality indicators for satellite echocardiography services within critical care areas is therefore the focus of the present quality exploration: our aim is to propose a set of parameters against which satellite critical care echo services can be benchmarked. In publishing our suggestions, we hope to stimulate debate in light of the rapid evolution of critical care echocardiography as a subspecialty practice. We suggest that our proposed parameters could be used to maintain satellite critical care service standards and to help identify departments capable of delivering high-quality services and training in critical care echocardiography.

Open access

A R J Mitchell, R Hurry, P Le Page, and H MacLachlan

We evaluated the feasibility and costs of utilising hand-held cardiac ultrasound (HHCU) as part of a community-based pre-participation cardiovascular screening programme. Ninety-seven school children were screened using a personal history, a physical examination, a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) and a HHCU. A consultant cardiologist independently reviewed and reported the data. Previously undiagnosed cardiovascular abnormalities were identified in nine participants (9%). An additional three participants (3%) were diagnosed with hypertension. The nine abnormalities were identified at a cost of £460 per finding, with a cost of £43 per participant screened. The marginal cost of adding a HHCU to the personal history, physical examination and ECG was £16 per participant. Pre-participation screening in the community using hand-held echocardiography is practical and inexpensive. The additional sensitivity and specificity provided by the ultrasound may enhance screening programmes, thereby reducing false positives and the need for expensive follow-up testing.