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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

Arturo Evangelista, Giuliana Maldonado, Domenico Gruosso, Laura Gutiérrez, Chiara Granato, Nicolas Villalva, Laura Galian, Teresa González-Alujas, Gisela Teixido, and Jose Rodríguez-Palomares

Acute aortic syndrome (AAS) comprises a range of interrelated conditions caused by disruption of the medial layer of the aortic wall, including aortic dissection, intramural haematoma and penetrating aortic ulcer. Since mortality from AAS is high, a prompt and accurate diagnosis using imaging techniques is paramount. Both transthoracic (TTE) and transoesophageal echocardiography (TEE) are useful in the diagnosis of AAS. TTE should be the first imaging technique to evaluate patients with thoracic pain in the emergency room. Should AAS be suspected, contrast administration is recommended when images are not definitive. TEE allows high-quality images in thoracic aorta. The main drawback of this technique is that it is semi-invasive and the presence of a blind area that limits visualisation of the distal ascending aorta near. TEE identifies the location and size of the entry tear, secondary communications, true lumen compression and the dynamic flow pattern of false lumen. Although computed tomography (CT) is the most used imaging technique in the diagnosis of AAS, echocardiography offers complementary information relevant for its management. The best imaging strategy for appropriately diagnosing and assessing AAS is to combine CT, mainly ECG-gated contrast-enhanced CT, and TTE. Currently, TEE tends to be carried out in the operating theatre immediately before surgical or endovascular therapy and in monitoring their results. The aims of this review are to establish the current role of echocardiography in the diagnosis and management of AAS based on its advantages and limitations.

Open access

Ingeborg H F Herold, Salvatore Saporito, Massimo Mischi, Hans C van Assen, R Arthur Bouwman, Anouk G W de Lepper, Harrie C M van den Bosch, Hendrikus H M Korsten, and Patrick Houthuizen

Background

Pulmonary transit time (PTT) is an indirect measure of preload and left ventricular function, which can be estimated using the indicator dilution theory by contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS). In this study, we first assessed the accuracy of PTT-CEUS by comparing it with dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI). Secondly, we tested the hypothesis that PTT-CEUS correlates with the severity of heart failure, assessed by MRI and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP).

Methods and results

Twenty patients referred to our hospital for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) were enrolled. DCE-MRI, CEUS, and NT-proBNP measurements were performed within an hour. Mean transit time (MTT) was obtained by estimating the time evolution of indicator concentration within regions of interest drawn in the right and left ventricles in video loops of DCE-MRI and CEUS. PTT was estimated as the difference of the left and right ventricular MTT. Normalized PTT (nPTT) was obtained by multiplication of PTT with the heart rate. Mean PTT-CEUS was 10.5±2.4s and PTT-DCE-MRI was 10.4±2.0s (P=0.88). The correlations of PTT and nPTT by CEUS and DCE-MRI were strong; r=0.75 (P=0.0001) and r=0.76 (P=0.0001), respectively. Bland–Altman analysis revealed a bias of 0.1s for PTT. nPTT-CEUS correlated moderately with left ventricle volumes. The correlations for PTT-CEUS and nPTT-CEUS were moderate to strong with NT-proBNP; r=0.54 (P=0.022) and r=0.68 (P=0.002), respectively.

Conclusions

(n)PTT-CEUS showed strong agreement with that by DCE-MRI. Given the good correlation with NT-proBNP level, (n)PTT-CEUS may provide a novel, clinically feasible measure to quantify the severity of heart failure.

Clinical Trial Registry: NCT01735838

Open access

Takahide Ito and Michihiro Suwa

Spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) indicates blood stasis in cardiac chambers and major vessels, and is a known precursor of thrombus formation. Transesophageal echocardiography plays a pivotal role in detecting and grading SEC in the left atrial (LA) cavity. Assessing LA SEC can identify patients at increased risk for thromboembolic events. LA SEC also develops in patients who have sinus rhythm, especially in those with heart failure. Detection of LA SEC is not uncommon in subjects who have multiple cardiovascular comorbidities, although mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the role of mitral regurgitation in counteracting LA SEC and subsequent thromboembolism is controversial. Moreover, alterations of blood coagulability and elevated levels of certain biological markers in the blood contribute to occurrence of LA SEC. This review describes the pathogenesis and assessment of SEC, in addition to the relationship between LA SEC and clinical, biological and echocardiographic parameters.

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

Maria Pia Donataccio, Claudio Reverberi, and Nicola Gaibazzi

Summary

A 52-year-old man presented after one episode of effort angina, normal treadmill electrocardiogram (ECG), and clearly positive adenosine cardiac magnetic resonance (aCMR) for reversible perfusion defects in the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery territory. Contrast high-dose dipyridamole (0.84 mg/kg per 6 min) stress echocardiography (cSE) demonstrated normal myocardial perfusion (MP) and wall motion at rest, while perfusion defects were shown in the lateral and apical segments after dipyridamole. Wall motion at stress was completely normal and stress/rest Doppler diastolic velocity ratio on the LAD demonstrated reduced flow reserve. In this case, cSE was the provocative test detecting both the LAD and circumflex obstructive lesions, thanks to MP analysis, while wall motion assessment was negative, not different from treadmill ECG, and aCMR highlighted only the LAD disease.

Learning points

  • In spite of the low sensitivity of wall motion assessment during stress-echocardiography to detect coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients with multivessel disease and balanced ischemia, the addition of cSE with myocardial perfusion assessment, is not only able to overcome this limitation of false negative rate on a per-patient basis, but may also depict multivessel myocardial perfusion defects more efficiently than aCMR, as in the reported case, thanks to high spatial resolution.
  • Myocardial perfusion assessment during cSE, although not always technically feasible, has a very high spatial and temporal resolution which can easily demonstrate multivessel subendocardial perfusion defects during maximal vasodilation, which is often the only detectable marker of multivessel, balanced CAD.
  • It is known that wall motion analysis during pharmacologic stress may result in falsely negative multivessel disease; in these cases perfusion imaging or Doppler measurement of coronary flow reserve may be helpful to detect multivessel obstructive CAD, which is a significant and dismal prognostic finding. aCMR is assumed as the perfect imaging modality for CAD detection, but in selected cases, such as the one presented, an advanced echocardiographic method in experienced hands can provide even more comprehensive results.

Open access

David G Platts, Kenji Shiino, Jonathan Chan, Darryl J Burstow, Gregory M Scalia, and John F Fraser

Background

Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) plays a fundamental role in the management of patients supported with extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). In light of fluctuating clinical states, serial monitoring of cardiac function is required. Formal quantification of ventricular parameters and myocardial mechanics offer benefit over qualitative assessment. The aim of this research was to compare unenhanced (UE) versus contrast-enhanced (CE) quantification of myocardial function and mechanics during ECMO in a validated ovine model.

Methods

Twenty-four sheep were commenced on peripheral veno-venous ECMO. Acute smoke-induced lung injury was induced in 21 sheep (3 controls). CE-TTE with Definity using Cadence Pulse Sequencing was performed. Two readers performed image analysis with TomTec Arena. End diastolic area (EDA, cm2), end systolic area (ESA, cm2), fractional area change (FAC, %), endocardial global circumferential strain (EGCS, %), myocardial global circumferential strain (MGCS, %), endocardial rotation (ER, degrees) and global radial strain (GRD, %) were evaluated for UE-TTE and CE-TTE.

Results

Full data sets are available in 22 sheep (92%). Mean CE EDA and ESA were significantly larger than in unenhanced images. Mean FAC was almost identical between the two techniques. There was no significant difference between UE and CE EGCS, MGCS and ER. There was significant difference in GRS between imaging techniques. Unenhanced inter-observer variability was from 0.48–0.70 but significantly improved to 0.71–0.89 for contrast imaging in all echocardiographic parameters.

Conclusion

Semi-automated methods of myocardial function and mechanics using CE-TTE during ECMO was feasible and similar to UE-TTE for all parameters except ventricular areas and global radial strain. Addition of contrast significantly decreased inter-observer variability of all measurements.

Open access

Jun Zhang, Yani Liu, Ligang Liu, and Youbin Deng

Summary

We present quite a rare case of extracardiac unruptured right sinus of valsalva aneurysm (SVA) complicated with atherothrombosis in a young adult man. A 35-year-old male with a giant unruptured SVA arising from the right coronary sinus (RCS) with extracardiac protrusion was diagnosed by echocardiography. Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) revealed a huge calcified aneurysm with mural thrombi originating from the aortic root, and about 80% stenosis at the initial segment of the right coronary artery (RCA). Intraoperative exploration demonstrated a giant unruptured aneurysm arising from the RCS. Different from other SVAs reported before, this aneurismal wall appeared thick and atheromatous-like. In this aneurysm, there was a small localized intima tearing and mural thrombosis, and the orifice of the RCA was almost blocked. This patient underwent surgical patch repair to prevent aneurysm rupture and coronary artery bypass grafting for RCA revascularization. In conclusion, the pathological examination demonstrated marked foam cells, inflammatory cells, and thrombosis in the aneurismal wall.

Learning points

  • Echocardiographic characteristics of sinus of valsalva aneurysm (SVA).
  • Diagnostic evaluation of extracardiac unruptured SVA.
  • Pathology of rare SVA.

Open access

Lijun Qian, Feng Xie, Di Xu, and Thomas R Porter

Background:

Resting myocardial perfusion (MP) and wall motion (WM) imaging during real-time myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE) improves the detection of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, its prognostic role in different clinical settings (emergency department and outpatient setting) remains unclear.

Methods:

A systematic search in PubMed and Embase databases, and the Cochrane library, was conducted to evaluate the role of resting MP and WM in predicting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), including death, nonfatal myocardial infarction (NFMI) and urgent revascularization in patients presenting to either outpatient clinics or emergency departments with suspected symptomatic CAD. Summary receiver operating characteristic (SROC) curves, sensitivity and specificity plots were applied to assess diagnostic performance using RevMan 5.3.

Results:

Seven studies met criteria, including 3668 patients (six with follow up ranging from 2 days to 2.6 years). The Relative Risk (RR) for predicting MACE in patients with both abnormal resting MP and WM was 6.1 (95% CI, 5.1–7.2) and 14.3 (95% CI, 10.3–19.8) for death/NFMI, when compared to normal resting MP and WM patients. Having both abnormal resting MP and WM was also more predictive of MACE (RR, 1.7; 95% CI 1.5–1.9) and death/NFMI (RR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.8–2.7) when compared to abnormal WM with normal resting MP.

Conclusion:

In this meta-analysis of both ED and outpatient clinic presentations for suspected CAD, having both a resting regional MP and WM abnormality identifies the highest risk patient for adverse events.