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Open access

Rekha Mankad and Joerg Herrmann

Cardiac tumors are exceedingly rare (0.001–0.03% in most autopsy series). They can be present anywhere within the heart and can be attached to any surface or be embedded in the myocardium or pericardial space. Signs and symptoms are nonspecific and highly variable related to the localization, size and composition of the cardiac mass. Echocardiography, typically performed for another indication, may be the first imaging modality alerting the clinician to the presence of a cardiac mass. Although echocardiography cannot give the histopathology, certain imaging features and adjunctive tools such as contrast imaging may aid in the differential diagnosis as do the adjunctive clinical data and the following principles: (1) thrombus or vegetations are the most likely etiology, (2) cardiac tumors are mostly secondary and (3) primary cardiac tumors are mostly benign. Although the finding of a cardiac mass on echocardiography may generate confusion, a stepwise approach may serve well practically. Herein, we will review such an approach and the role of echocardiography in the assessment of cardiac masses.

Open access

Ruchika Meel, Bijoy K Khandheria, Ferande Peters, Elena Libhaber, Samantha Nel, and Mohammed R Essop

Objective

Normal cut-off values for left atrial (LA) size and function may be altered by aging and ethnic differences. No age-related reference values for LA volumetric measurements or LA strain exist in Africans. We aimed to establish normal age-appropriate values of LA size and function in black Africans. Additionally, we studied the correlation between age, LA strain and volumetric parameters.

Methods

In this prospective, cross-sectional study of 120 individuals (mean age 38.7 ± 12.8 years, 50% men), subjects were classified into four age groups: 18–29, 30–39, 40–49 and 50–70 years. LA volumes were measured by biplane Simpson’s method, and Philips QLAB 9 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) speckle-tracking software was used to measure LA peak strain in the reservoir (Ɛ R) and contractile phase (Ɛ CT).

Results

No significant differences in the maximum and minimum LAVi were noted among the four age categories (P = 0.1, P = 0.2). LA volumetric function assessment showed no difference in reservoir function between age groups (P > 0.05), conduit function decreased with advancing age (r = −0.3, P < 0.001) and booster function displayed a significant increase with age (LA active emptying volume index, P = 0.001). There was a significant decrease in LA Ɛ R (P < 0.0001) in the older age groups, whereas Ɛ CT remained unchanged (P = 0.27).

Conclusion

Age-related changes in LA reservoir, conduit and contractile function in black Africans are similar to those observed in other populations, as was the trend of declining Ɛ R with advancing age. The preservation of Ɛ CT with increasing age requires further analysis.

Open access

Azad Mashari, Mario Montealegre-Gallegos, Ziyad Knio, Lu Yeh, Jelliffe Jeganathan, Robina Matyal, Kamal R Khabbaz, and Feroze Mahmood

Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a rapidly evolving technology with several potential applications in the diagnosis and management of cardiac disease. Recently, 3D printing (i.e. rapid prototyping) derived from 3D transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) has become possible. Due to the multiple steps involved and the specific equipment required for each step, it might be difficult to start implementing echocardiography-derived 3D printing in a clinical setting. In this review, we provide an overview of this process, including its logistics and organization of tools and materials, 3D TEE image acquisition strategies, data export, format conversion, segmentation, and printing. Generation of patient-specific models of cardiac anatomy from echocardiographic data is a feasible, practical application of 3D printing technology.

Open access

Alexandros Papachristidis, Damian Roper, Daniela Cassar Demarco, Ioannis Tsironis, Michael Papitsas, Jonathan Byrne, Khaled Alfakih, and Mark J Monaghan

Introduction

In this study, we aim to reassess the prognostic value of stress echocardiography (SE) in a contemporary population and to evaluate the clinical significance of limited apical ischaemia, which has not been previously studied.

Methods

We included 880 patients who underwent SE. Follow-up data with regards to MACCE (cardiac death, myocardial infarction, any repeat revascularisation and cerebrovascular accident) were collected over 12 months after the SE. Mortality data were recorded over 27.02 ± 4.6 months (5.5–34.2 months). We sought to investigate the predictors of MACCE and all-cause mortality.

Results

In a multivariable analysis, only the positive result of SE was predictive of MACCE (HR, 3.71; P = 0.012). The positive SE group was divided into 2 subgroups: (a) inducible ischaemia limited to the apical segments (‘apical ischaemia’) and (b) ischaemia in any other segments with or without apical involvement (‘other positive’). The subgroup of patients with apical ischaemia had a significantly worse outcome compared to the patients with a negative SE (HR, 3.68; P = 0.041) but a similar outcome to the ‘other positive’ subgroup. However, when investigated with invasive coronary angiography, the prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) and their rate of revascularisation was considerably lower. Only age (HR, 1.07; P < 0.001) was correlated with all-cause mortality.

Conclusion

SE remains a strong predictor of patients’ outcome in a contemporary population. A positive SE result was the only predictor of 12-month MACCE. The subgroup of patients with limited apical ischaemia have similar outcome to patients with ischaemia in other segments despite a lower prevalence of CAD and a lower revascularisation rate.

Open access

Boyang Liu, Nicola C Edwards, Simon Ray, and Richard P Steeds

Mitral regurgitation (MR) is the second most common form of valvular disease requiring surgery. Correct identification of surgical candidates and optimising the timing of surgery are key in management. For primary MR, this relies upon a balance between the peri-operative risks and rates of successful repair in patients undergoing early surgery when asymptomatic with the potential risk of irreversible left ventricular dysfunction if intervention is performed too late. For secondary MR, recognition that this is a highly dynamic condition where MR severity may change is key, although data on outcomes in determining whether concomitant valve intervention is performed with revascularisation has raised questions regarding timing of surgery. There has been substantial interest in the use of stress echocardiography to risk stratify patients in mitral regurgitation. This article reviews the role of stress echocardiography in both primary and secondary mitral regurgitation and discusses how this can help clinicians tackle the challenges of this prevalent condition.

Open access

John B Chambers

This is a practical description of how replacement valves are assessed using echocardiography. Normal transthoracic appearances including normal variants are described. The problem of differentiating normal function, patient–prosthesis mismatch and pathological obstruction in aortic replacement valves with high gradients is discussed. Obstruction and abnormal regurgitation is described for valves in the aortic, mitral and right-sided positions and when to use echocardiography in suspected infective endocarditis. The roles of transoesophageal and stress echocardiography are described and finally when other imaging techniques may be useful.

Open access

James Yates, Colin Forbes Royse, Carolyn Royse, Alistair George Royse, and David Jeffrey Canty

Background

Ultrasound-assisted examination of the cardiovascular system with focused cardiac ultrasound by the treating physician is non-invasive and changes diagnosis and management of patient’s with suspected cardiac disease. This has not been reported in a general practice setting.

Aim

To determine whether focused cardiac ultrasound performed on patients aged over 50 years changes the diagnosis and management of cardiac disease by a general practitioner.

Design and setting

A prospective observational study of 80 patients aged over 50years and who had not received echocardiography or chest CT within 12months presenting to a general practice.

Method

Clinical assessment and management of significant cardiac disorders in patients presenting to general practitioners were recorded before and after focused cardiac ultrasound. Echocardiography was performed by a medical student with sufficient training, which was verified by an expert. Differences in diagnosis and management between conventional and ultrasound-assisted assessment were recorded.

Results and conclusion

Echocardiography and interpretation were acceptable in all patients. Significant cardiac disease was detected in 16 (20%) patients, including aortic stenosis in 9 (11%) and cardiac failure in 7 (9%), which were missed by clinical examination in 10 (62.5%) of these patients. Changes in management occurred in 12 patients (15% overall and 75% of those found to have significant cardiac disease) including referral for diagnostic echocardiography in 8 (10%), commencement of heart failure treatment in 3 (4%) and referral to a cardiologist in 1 patient (1%).

Routine focused cardiac ultrasound is feasible and frequently alters the diagnosis and management of cardiac disease in patients aged over 50years presenting to a general practice.

Open access

A King, J Thambyrajah, E Leng, and M J Stewart

Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is a widely used and effective drug for the treatment of Her2+ breast cancer but its cardiotoxic side effects require regular monitoring by echocardiography. A 10% reduction in left ventricular ejection fraction can lead to suspension of treatment and therefore has significant implications for patient prognosis in terms of cardiac and cancer outcomes. Assessment of LV function by conventional 2D biplane method of discs (2DEF) has limitations in accuracy and reproducibility. Global longitudinal strain (GLS) is becoming more widely available and user friendly. It has been shown to demonstrate myocardial damage earlier in treatment than 2DEF, allowing the option of pharmacological intervention at a pre-clinical stage and preventing the interruption of Herceptin. This study compares the reproducibility of GLS with that of 2DEF in a routine clinical environment. Fifty echocardiograms performed on female patients undergoing Herceptin treatment were used to measure both 2DEF and GLS within the recommended standard appointment time of 40 min. The data were re-measured (blind) by the same operator a minimum of 14 days later to determine intra-operator variation. These data were also measured by a second operator (blind), to assess inter-operator variation. Analysis by direct comparison, intra-class correlation (ICC), coefficient of variation (CV) and Bland–Altman plots demonstrated that GLS is a more reproducible measurement than 2DEF. This is important to prevent clinical decisions being erroneously based on variation in operator measurement. The investigation also shows that with advances in machine software this is a practical addition to routine assessment rather than merely a research tool.

Open access

Y Tayyareci, R Dworakowski, P Kogoj, J Reiken, C Kenny, P MacCarthy, O Wendler, and M J Monaghan

Objective

To assess the impact of mitral geometry, left ventricular (LV) remodelling and global LV afterload on mitral regurgitation (MR) after trans-catheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

Methods

In this study, 60 patients who underwent TAVI were evaluated by 3D echocardiography at baseline, 1 month and 6 months after procedure. The proportional change in MR following TAVI was determined by examining the percentage change in vena contracta (VC) at 6 months. Patients having a significant reduction of at least 30% in VC were defined as good responders (GR) and the remaining patients were defined as poor responders (PR).

Results

After 6 months of TAVI, 27 (45%) patients were GR and 33 (55%) were PR. There was a significant decrease in 3DE-derived mitral annular diameter and area (P = 0.001), mitral valve tenting area (TA) (P = 0.05), and mitral papillary muscle dyssynchrony index (DSI) (P = 0.05) in the GR group. 3DE-derived LVESV (P = 0.016), LV mass (P = 0.001) and LV DSI, (P = 0.001) were also improved 6 months after TAVI. In addition, valvulo-arterial impedance (ZVA) was significantly higher at baseline in patients with PR (P = 0.028). 3DE-derived mitral annular area (β: 0.47, P = 0.04), mitral papillary DSI (β: −0.65, P = 0.012) and ZVA (β: 0.45, P = 0.028) were the strongest independent parameters that could predict the reduction of functional MR after TAVI.

Conclusion

GR patients demonstrate more regression in mitral annulus area and diameter after significant decrease in high LVEDP and trans-aortic gradients with TAVI. PR patients appear to have increased baseline ZVA, mitral valve tenting and restriction in mitral valve coaptation. These factors are important for predicting the impact of TAVI on pre-existing MR.