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Open access

Philip McCall, Alvin Soosay, John Kinsella, Piotr Sonecki, and Ben Shelley

Right ventricular (RV) dysfunction occurs following lung resection and is associated with post-operative complications and long-term functional morbidity. Accurate peri-operative assessment of RV function would have utility in this population. The difficulties of transthoracic echocardiographic (TTE) assessment of RV function may be compounded following lung resection surgery, and no parameters have been validated in this patient group. This study compares conventional TTE methods for assessing RV systolic function to a reference method in a lung resection population. Right ventricular index of myocardial performance (RIMP), fractional area change (FAC), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE) and S′ wave velocity at the tricuspid annulus (S′), along with speckle tracked global and free wall longitudinal strain (RV-GPLS and RV-FWPLS respectively) are compared with RV ejection fraction obtained by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (RVEFCMR). Twenty-seven patients undergoing lung resection underwent contemporaneous CMR and TTE imaging; pre-operatively, on post-operative day two and at 2 months. Ability of each of the parameters to predict RV dysfunction (RVEFCMR <45%) was assessed using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROCC). RIMP, FAC and S′ demonstrated no predictive value for poor RV function (AUROCC <0.61, P > 0.05). TAPSE performed marginally better with an AUROCC of 0.65 (P = 0.04). RV-GPLS and RV-FWPLS demonstrated good predictive ability with AUROCC’s of 0.74 and 0.76 respectively (P < 0.01 for both). This study demonstrates that the conventional TTE parameters of RV systolic function are inadequate following lung resection. Longitudinal strain performs better and offers some ability to determine poor RV function in this challenging population.

Open access

M Alsharqi, W J Woodward, J A Mumith, D C Markham, R Upton, and P Leeson

Echocardiography plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disease. However, interpretation remains largely reliant on the subjective expertise of the operator. As a result inter-operator variability and experience can lead to incorrect diagnoses. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies provide new possibilities for echocardiography to generate accurate, consistent and automated interpretation of echocardiograms, thus potentially reducing the risk of human error. In this review, we discuss a subfield of AI relevant to image interpretation, called machine learning, and its potential to enhance the diagnostic performance of echocardiography. We discuss recent applications of these methods and future directions for AI-assisted interpretation of echocardiograms. The research suggests it is feasible to apply machine learning models to provide rapid, highly accurate and consistent assessment of echocardiograms, comparable to clinicians. These algorithms are capable of accurately quantifying a wide range of features, such as the severity of valvular heart disease or the ischaemic burden in patients with coronary artery disease. However, the applications and their use are still in their infancy within the field of echocardiography. Research to refine methods and validate their use for automation, quantification and diagnosis are in progress. Widespread adoption of robust AI tools in clinical echocardiography practice should follow and have the potential to deliver significant benefits for patient outcome.

Open access

A E Velcea, S Mihaila Baldea, D Muraru, L P Badano, and D Vinereanu

Summary

Neck venous malformations and their potentially life-threatening complications are rarely reported in the available literature. Cases of aneurysmal or hypo-plastic jugular vein thrombosis associated with systemic embolization have not been frequently reported. We present the case of a 60-year-old male, without any known risk factors for thromboembolic disease, admitted for sudden onset dyspnea. The physical examination was remarkable for a right lateral cervical mass, expanding with Valsalva maneuver. Thoracic CT with contrast established the diagnosis of bilateral pulmonary embolism and raised the suspicion of superior vena cava and right atrial thrombosis. Bedside transthoracic echocardiography confirmed the presence of a large right atrial thrombus, with intermittent protrusion through the tricuspid valve. Systemic thrombolysis with Alteplase was initiated shortly after diagnosis, in parallel with unfractionated heparin, with complete resolution of the intracavitary thrombus documented by echocardiography. The patient showed significant improvement in symptoms and was later started on oral anticoagulation. Computed vascular tomography of the neck was performed before discharge, showing hypoplasia of the left internal jugular vein and aneurismal dilation of the contralateral internal jugular vein, without thrombosis. There were no identifiable systemic causes for thrombosis. Surgical resection of the aneurismal jugular vein was excluded, because of its potential to cause intracranial hypertension. The preferred therapeutic option in this case was long-term oral anticoagulation.

Learning points:

  • Internal jugular venous malformations, such as aneurisms or hypoplasia, could be associated with an increased risk of thrombosis and major embolic events.

  • Systemic thrombolysis can be an efficient solution in cases of pulmonary embolism with right heart thrombosis.

  • Multimodality imaging is greatly valuable in clarifying the diagnosis of atypical cases.

Open access

P Luke, C Eggett, I Spyridopoulos, and T Irvine

At present there are two recognised guidelines for the echocardiographic assessment of left ventricular diastolic function provided by the British Society of Echocardiography and American Society of Echocardiography/European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging. However, no direct comparison of these guidelines has been performed to establish whether they provide similar diastolic grading. One hundred and eighty-nine consecutive patients in sinus rhythm who underwent transthoracic echocardiography for a primary indication of either heart failure assessment or assessment of left ventricular systolic function were extracted from our database (McKesson Cardiology). Left ventricular diastolic function assessment was performed using both guidelines and the results were compared. Chi-square, Kappa score and one-way ANOVA were used to evaluate the data at a level of P < 0.05. The most frequent outcome was unclassifiable diastolic function with significantly more patients being labelled unclassified with the British compared to American guidelines (47.4 vs 20.5%, P < 0.0001). Having excluded all unclassifiable patients, a significant difference still existed between the two guidelines with a higher proportion of grade one outcomes awarded by the ASE/EACVI guidelines. When grading subcategories were individually compared, there was significantly more grade one diastolic gradings awarded by American compared to the British guidelines (40.7 vs 20.1%, P < 0.0001). In 47% of patients it was not possible to grade diastolic function using the British guidelines, compared to 21% using the American guidelines. For those patients where grading was possible, there was a significant difference in patients classified with normal and grade one diastolic function when using British and American guidelines.

Open access

Sergio Barros-Gomes, Abdallah El Sabbagh, Mackram F Eleid, and Sunil V Mankad

Open access

Navroz Masani

The Echocardiography Quality Framework (EQF) is a unique, comprehensive, holistic approach to improving all aspects of an echocardiography service. The EQF is a patient-centered program, combining Quality Assurance and Continuous Service Improvement. The framework encompasses measures of (i) the quality of echocardiography, (ii) reproducibility and consistency, (iii) education and training, and (iv) customer feedback. The EQF is scalable and adaptable to benefit any echocardiography service. A catalogue or library of supporting documents is being developed by the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE), to be made available to any participating department. A mechanism and online infrastructure for (optional) national registration or assessment is being developed, to be used as a standalone adjunct or linked to BSE Departmental Accreditation. The principles that underpin the EQF may be applied to other imaging disciplines and, ultimately, other medical or surgical specialties.

Open access

C Bleakley, M Eskandari, O Aldalati, K Moschonas, M Huang, A Whittaker, and M J Monaghan

Background

The mitral valve orifice area (MVOA) is difficult to assess accurately by 2D echocardiography because of geometric assumptions; therefore, 3D planimetry may offer advantages. We studied the differences in MVOA measurements between the most frequently used methods, to determine if 3D planimetry would result in the re-grading of severity in any cases, and whether it was a more accurate predictor of clinical outcomes.

Methods

This was a head-to-head comparison of the three most commonly used techniques to grade mitral stenosis (MS) by orifice area and to assess their impact on clinical outcomes. 2D measurements (pressure half-time (PHT), planimetry) and 3D planimetry were performed retrospectively on patients with at least mild MS. The clinical primary endpoint was defined as a composite of MV balloon valvotomy, mitral valve repair or replacement (MVR) and/or acute heart failure (HF) admissions.

Results

Forty-one consecutive patients were included; the majority were female (35; 85.4%), average age 55 (17) years. Mean and peak MV gradients were 9.4 (4) mmHg and 19 (6) mmHg, respectively. 2D and 3D measures of MVOA differed significantly; mean 2D planimetry MVOA was 1.28 (0.40) cm2, mean 3D planimetry MVOA 1.15 (0.29) cm2 (P = 0.003). Mean PHT MVOA was 1.43 (0.44) cm2 (P = 0.046 and P < 0.001 in comparison to 2D and 3D planimetry methods, respectively). 3D planimetry reclassified 7 (17%) patients from mild-to-moderate MS, and 1 (2.4%) from moderate to severe. Overall, differences between the two methods were significant (X 2, P < 0.001). Only cases graded as severe by 3D predicted the primary outcome measure compared with mild or moderate cases (odds ratio 5.7).

Conclusion

3D planimetry in MS returns significantly smaller measurements, which in some cases results in the reclassification of severity. Routine use of 3D may significantly influence the management of MS, with a degree of prediction of clinical outcomes.

Open access

Thomas E Ingram, Steph Baker, Jane Allen, Sarah Ritzmann, Nina Bual, Laura Duffy, Chris Ellis, Karina Bunting, Noel Black, Marcus Peck, Sandeep S Hothi, Vishal Sharma, Keith Pearce, Richard P Steeds, Navroz Masani, and the British Society of Echocardiography Clinical Standards and Departmental Accreditation Committees

Background

Quality assurance (QA) of echocardiographic studies is vital to ensure that clinicians can act on findings of high quality to deliver excellent patient care. To date, there is a paucity of published guidance on how to perform this QA. The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has previously produced an Echocardiography Quality Framework (EQF) to assist departments with their QA processes. This article expands on the EQF with a structured yet versatile approach on how to analyse echocardiographic departments to ensure high-quality standards are met. In addition, a process is detailed for departments that are seeking to demonstrate to external bodies adherence to a robust QA process.

Methods

The EQF consists of four domains. These include assessment of Echo Quality (including study acquisition and report generation); Reproducibility & Consistency (including analysis of individual variability when compared to the group and focused clinical audit), Education & Training (for all providers and service users) and Customer & Staff Satisfaction (of both service users and patients/their carers). Examples of what could be done in each of these areas are presented. Furthermore, evidence of participation in each domain is categorised against a red, amber or green rating: with an amber or green rating signifying that a quantifiable level of engagement in that aspect of QA has been achieved.

Conclusion

The proposed EQF is a powerful tool that focuses the limited time available for departmental QA on areas of practice where a change in patient experience or outcome is most likely to occur.

Open access

Mohammed Andaleeb Chowdhury, Jered M Cook, George V Moukarbel, Sana Ashtiani, Thomas A Schwann, Mark R Bonnell, Christopher J Cooper, and Samer J Khouri

Background

This analysis aims to assess the prognostic value of pre-operative right ventricular echocardiographic parameters in predicting short-term adverse outcomes and long-term mortality after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

Methods

Study design: Observational retrospective cohort. Pre-operative echocardiographic data, perioperative adverse outcomes (POAO) and long-term mortality were retrospectively analyzed in 491 patients who underwent isolated CABG at a single academic center between 2006 and 2014.

Results

Average age of enrolled subjects was 66 ± 11.5 years with majority being male (69%). 227/491 patients had 30 days POAO (46%); most common being post-operative atrial fibrillation (27.3%) followed by prolonged ventilation duration (12.7%). On multivariate analysis, left atrial volume index ≥42 mL/m2 (LAVI) (OR (95% CI): 1.98 (1.03–3.82), P = 0.04), mitral E/A >2 (1.97 (1.02–3.78), P = 0.04), right atrial size >18 cm2 (1.86 (1.14–3.05), P = 0.01), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE) <16 mm (1.8 (1.03–3.17), P = 0.04), right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) ≥36 mmHg (pulmonary hypertension) (1.6 (1.03–2.38), P = 0.04) and right ventricle myocardial performance index (RVMPI) >0.55 (1.58 (1.01–2.46), P = 0.04) were found to be associated with increased 30-day POAO. On 3.5-year follow-up, cumulative survival was decreased in patients with myocardial performance index (MPI) ≥0.55 (log rank: 4.5, P = 0.034) and in patients with mitral valve E/e′ ≥14 (log rank: 4.9, P = 0.026).

Conclusion

Pre-operative right ventricle dysfunction (RVD) is associated with increased perioperative complications. Furthermore, pre-operative RVD and increased left atrial pressures are associated with long-term mortality post CABG.