Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is the most common cyanotic congenital heart defect, affecting 3 in 10,000 live births. Surgical correction in early childhood is associated with good outcomes, but lifelong follow-up is necessary to identify the long-term sequelae that may occur. This article will cover the diagnosis of TOF in childhood, the objectives of surveillance through adulthood and the value of multi-modality imaging in identifying and guiding timely surgical and percutaneous interventions.
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Hannah Bellsham-Revell and Navroz Masani
Sequential segmental analysis allows clear description of the cardiac structure in a logical fashion without assumptions and confusing nomenclature. Each segment is analysed, and then the connections described followed by any associated anomalies. For the echocardiographer there are several key features of the cardiac structures to help differentiate and accurately describe them.
Michael Roshen, Sophia John, Selda Ahmet, Rajiv Amersey, Sandy Gupta and George Collins
The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) highlights the importance of patient questionnaires as part of the quality improvement process, To this end, we implemented a novel system whereby paired surveys were completed by patients and physiologists for transthoracic echocardiography scans, allowing for parallel comparison of the experiences of service providers and end users. Anonymised questionnaires were completed for each scan by the patient and physiologist for outpatient echocardiographic scans in a teaching hospital. In 26% of the responses, patient found the scans at least slightly painful, and in 24% of scans physiologists were in discomfort. The most common reason given by physiologists for technically difficult or inadequate scans was patient discomfort. In 38% of the scans at least one person (the patient or the physiologist) was in at least some discomfort. Comparative data showed that the scans reported as most painful by patients were also reported by the physiologists as difficult and uncomfortable. In summary, these results demonstrate the feasibility of implementing paired surveys. Patient information leaflets by the BSE and National Health Service (NHS) describe echocardiography as painless but the results here indicate this is not always the case.
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.
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.
A E Velcea, S Mihaila Baldea, D Muraru, L P Badano and D Vinereanu
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.
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.
Kai Neoh, Jamal N Khan, Khaled Albouaini and Adrian Chenzbraun
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.
Sergio Barros-Gomes, Abdallah El Sabbagh, Mackram F Eleid and Sunil V Mankad
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.