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Open access

Abbas Zaidi, Daniel S Knight, Daniel X Augustine, Allan Harkness, David Oxborough, Keith Pearce, Liam Ring, Shaun Robinson, Martin Stout, James Willis, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

The structure and function of the right side of the heart is influenced by a wide range of physiological and pathological conditions. Quantification of right heart parameters is important in a variety of clinical scenarios including diagnosis, prognostication, and monitoring response to therapy. Although echocardiography remains the first-line imaging investigation for right heart assessment, published guidance is relatively sparse in comparison to that for the left ventricle. This guideline document from the British Society of Echocardiography describes the principles and practical aspects of right heart assessment by echocardiography, including quantification of chamber dimensions and function, as well as assessment of valvular function. While cut-off values for normality are included, a disease-oriented approach is advocated due to the considerable heterogeneity of structural and functional changes seen across the spectrum of diseases affecting the right heart. The complex anatomy of the right ventricle requires special considerations and echocardiographic techniques, which are set out in this document. The clinical relevance of right ventricular diastolic function is introduced, with practical guidance for its assessment. Finally, the relatively novel techniques of three-dimensional right ventricular echocardiography and right ventricular speckle tracking imaging are described. Despite these techniques holding considerable promise, issues relating to reproducibility and inter-vendor variation have limited their clinical utility to date.

Open access

Nam Tran, Chun Shing Kwok, Sadie Bennett, Karim Ratib, Grant Heatlie, and Thanh Phan

Summary

A 62-year-old female was admitted with severe left-sided chest pain, nausea and pre-syncope. She had widespread T wave inversion on ECG and elevated troponins and was suspected to have an acute coronary syndrome event. Invasive coronary angiogram revealed normal coronary anatomy with no flow-limiting lesions. Echocardiography and cardiac MRI revealed impaired left ventricular (LV) systolic impairment, a mobile LV apical thrombus and a moderate global pericardial effusion with no significant compromise. Full blood count analysis indicated the patient to have significant eosinophilia, and the patient was diagnosed with idiopathic eosinophilic myocarditis. She was commenced on Prednisolone and Apixaban, and eosinophil levels returned to normal after 10 days of steroids. Over the course of 3 months, the patient had a complete recovery of her LV function and resolution of the LV thrombus. This case highlights a rare, reversible case of idiopathic eosinophilic myocarditis which may present similar to acute coronary syndrome.

Learning points:

  • Eosinophilic myocarditis (EM) is a rare disease that can exhibit symptoms similar to acute coronary syndrome events.

  • The diagnosis of EM should be considered in patients with chest pain, normal coronary angiogram and pronounced eosinophilia levels.

  • Endomyocardial biopsy is the gold standard diagnostic tool; however, it has a low sensitivity detection rate and its use is not indicated in some patients.

  • Echocardiography is useful in the initial detection of cardiac involvement and complications. However, echocardiography lacks diagnostic specificity for all forms of myocarditis including EM.

  • Cardiac magnetic resonance is a useful method and may add in diagnosing all forms of myocarditis including EM.

  • Patients with EM should be identified promptly and treated with high doses of oral glucocorticoid to reduce the risk of permanent cardiac dysfunction.

Open access

Handi Salim, Martin Been, David Hildick-Smith, and Jamal Nasir Khan

Open access

Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Daniel X Augustine, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

This guideline presents reference limits for use in echocardiographic practice, updating previous guidance from the British Society of Echocardiography. The rationale for change is discussed, in addition to how the reference intervals were defined and the current limitations to their use. The importance of interpretation of echocardiographic parameters within the clinical context is explored, as is grading of abnormality. Each of the following echo parameters are discussed and updated in turn: left ventricular linear dimensions and LV mass; left ventricular volumes; left ventricular ejection fraction; left atrial size; right heart parameters; aortic dimensions; and tissue Doppler imaging. There are several important conceptual changes to the assessment of the heart’s structure and function within this guideline. New terminology for left ventricular function and left atrial size are introduced. The British Society of Echocardiography has advocated a new approach to the assessment of the aortic root, the right heart, and clarified the optimal methodology for assessment of LA size. The British Society of Echocardiography has emphasized a preference to use, where feasible, indexed measures over absolute values for any chamber size.

Open access

Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Daniel X Augustine, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

Open access

Paul F Clift and Elena Cervi

Aortic diseases may be diagnosed after a long period of subclinical development or they may have an acute presentation. Acute aortic syndrome is often the first sign of the disease, which needs rapid diagnosis and decision making to reduce the extremely poor prognosis. Aortic dilatation is a well-recognised risk factor for acute events and can occur as a result of trauma, infection, or, most commonly, from an intrinsic abnormality in the elastin and collagen components of the aortic wall. Over the years it has become clear that a few monogenic syndromes are strongly associated with aneurysms and often dictate a severe presentation in younger patients while the vast majority have a multifactorial pathogenesis. Conventional cardiovascular risk factors and ageing play an important role. Management strategy is based on prevention consisting of regular follow-up with cross-sectional imaging, chemoprophylaxis of further dilatation with drugs proved to slow down the disease progression and preventative surgery when dimension exceeds internationally recognised cut-off values for aortic diameters and the risk of rupture/dissection is therefore deemed very high.

Open access

Daniel P Walsh, Kadhiresan R Murugappan, Achikam Oren-Grinberg, Vanessa T Wong, John D Mitchell, and Robina Matyal

Interactive online learning tools have revolutionized graduate medical education and can impart echocardiographic image interpretive skills. We created self-paced, interactive online training modules using a repository of echocardiography videos of normal and various degrees of abnormal left ventricles. In this study, we tested the feasibility of this learning tool. Thirteen anesthesia interns took a pre-test and then had 3 weeks to complete the training modules on their own time before taking a post-test. The average score on the post-test (74.6% ± 11.08%) was higher than the average score on the pre-test (57.7% ± 9.27%) (P < 0.001). Scores did not differ between extreme function (severe dysfunction or hyperdynamic function) and non-extreme function (normal function or mild or moderate dysfunction) questions on both the pre-test (P = 0.278) and post-test (P = 0.093). The interns scored higher on the post-test than the pre-test on both extreme (P = 0.0062) and non-extreme (P = 0.0083) questions. After using an online educational tool that allowed learning on their own time and pace, trainees improved their ability to correctly categorize left ventricular systolic function. Left ventricular systolic function is often a key echocardiographic question that can be difficult to master. The promising performance of this educational resource may lead to more time- and cost-effective methods for improving diagnostic accuracy among learners.

Open access

Norman McDicken, Adrian Thomson, Audrey White, Iqbal Toor, Gillian Gray, Carmel Moran, Robin J Watson, and Tom Anderson

A technology based on velocity ratio indices is described for application in the myocardium. Angle-independent Doppler indices, such as the pulsatility index, which employ velocity ratios, can be measured even if the ultrasound beam vector at the moving target and the motion vector are not in a known plane. The unknown plane situation is often encountered when an ultrasound beam interrogates sites in the myocardium. The velocities employed in an index calculation must be close to the same or opposite directions. The Doppler velocity ratio indices are independent of angle in 3D space as are ratio indices based on 1D strain and 1D speckle tracking. Angle-independent results with spectral Doppler methods are discussed. Possible future imaging techniques based on velocity ratios are presented. By using indices that involve ratios, several other sources of error cancel in addition to that of angular dependence for example errors due to less than optimum gain settings and beam distortion. This makes the indices reliable as research or clinical tools. Ratio techniques can be readily implemented with current commercial blood flow pulsed wave duplex Doppler equipment or with pulsed wave tissue Doppler equipment. In 70 patients where the quality of the real-time B-mode looked suitable for the Doppler velocity ratio technique, there was only one case where clear spectra could not be obtained for both the LV wall and the septum. A reproducibility study of spectra from the septum of the heart shows a 12% difference in velocity ratios in the repeat measurements.

Open access

Viren Ahluwalia, Faizel Osman, Jitendra Parmar, and Jamal Nasir Khan

Summary

Despite 3D echocardiography (3DE) acquiring significantly greater data than standard 2D echocardiography (2DE), it is underutilised in assessing cardiac anatomy and physiology. A key advantage is the ability of a single 3DE acquisition to be post-processed to generate volume-rendered 3D models and an unlimited number of multiplanar reconstruction (MPR) images. We describe the case of a highly anxious patient with life-threatening complex aortic valve endocarditis and aortic root abscess, refusing transesophageal echocardiography (TOE) under general anaesthesia with tachycardia, breathlessness and acute kidney injury precluding accurate or safe gated (computed tomography) CT, who was comprehensively assessed with a rapid 3D-TOE under sedation. This led to timely surgery and an excellent outcome for the patient.

Learning points:

  • 3DE is of greater clinical value than 2DE as it is able to post-process a single 3DE image acquisition into volume rendered 3D models, and provide an unlimited number of multiplanar reconstruction (MPR) images.

  • 3DE is highly effective in difficult cases where speed is important.

  • 3DE is superior in the planning of complex surgical cases.

Open access

Gowsini Joseph, Tomas Zaremba, Martin Berg Johansen, Sarah Ekeloef, Einar Heiberg, Henrik Engblom, Svend Eggert Jensen, and Peter Sogaard

The aim of this study was to investigate if there was an association between infarct size (IS) measured by cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) and echocardiographic global longitudinal strain (GLS) in the early stage of acute myocardial infarction in patients with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction who underwent primary percutaneous coronary intervention were assessed with CMR and transthoracic echocardiogram within 1 week of hospital admission. Two-dimensional speckle tracking was performed using a semi-automatic algorithm (EchoPac, GE Healthcare). Longitudinal strain curves were generated in a 17-segment model covering the entire left ventricular myocardium. GLS was calculated automatically. LVEF was measured by auto-LVEF in EchoPac. IS was measured by late gadolinium enhancement CMR in short-axis views covering the left ventricle. The study population consisted of 49 patients (age 60.4 ± 9.7 years; 92% male). The study population had preserved echocardiographic LVEF with a mean of 45.8 ± 8.7%. For each percent increase of IS, we found an impairment in GLS by 1.59% (95% CI 0.57–2.61), P = 0.02, after adjustment for sex, age and LVEF. No significant association between IS and echocardiographic LVEF was found: −0.25 (95% CI: −0.61 to 0.11), P = 0.51. At the segmental level, the strongest association between IS and longitudinal strain was found in the apical part of the LV: impairment of 1.69% (95% CI: 1.14–2.23), P < 0.001, for each percent increase in IS. In conclusion, GLS was significantly associated with IS in the early stage of acute myocardial infarction in patients with preserved LVEF, and this association was strongest in the apical part of the LV. No association between IS and LVEF was found.